Today, we see that time is money. Every second counts. And if you are in a research area, working efficiently means you have time to spend on what really matters—science.
Why Lab efficiency is a matter of concern?
Maximizing efficiency in your lab is important to ensure quality results, large output, and continued funding. To do this, you should put in place the right process, resources, and people management. However, this is often not the case—scientists are struggling with lab inefficiency, as an enormous amount of time is spent on non-core research activities (such as instrument maintenance) that do not contribute to their scientific research.
In order to save your precious time, here are 10 ways to make your lab 4 times more efficient.
1. Planning Ahead
To increase lab efficiency, one of the best things you can do is to plan ahead with a daily or weekly schedule. This will help you keep track of what needs to be done and when. It's also very satisfying to be able to tick off completed tasks!
By having a clear overview of your responsibilities, you can make sure that you don't forget anything important and use your time more effectively. Planning your day in writing instead of relying on your memory will also free up your brain to think about more important things, such as your experiments and future theoretical perspectives for your lab.
2. Design Layout for Proximity
When designing your laboratory, it is important to take into consideration how to optimize worker productivity. The best way to do this is by observing how employees use lab resources and then rearranging workstations accordingly. This means that people can easily access the resources they need, such as computers and reagents, without wasting time.
By getting rid of excess items and clutter, your lab will be more organized and workers will only have to take one or two extra steps to reach anything.
3. Label Everything
Because laboratory settings are usually bustling with activity, it's important that everything is labeled correctly to maintain order and efficiency. Mislabeled samples can lead to confusion and decreased productivity, which in turn decreases the reproducibility of results. Labeling your samples will also help you easily recognize them. It makes you efficient as you can complete more experiments in less time and save your lab money.
Make sure the label face is visible and unobstructed no matter where the sample is on the rack. Ensure that labels are clear and legible. Avoid duplicate coding for different samples. And most importantly, make sure samples can be easily found.
4. Empower Teams
Empowerment not only affects team engagement, but it also has a direct correlation to productivity levels. In fact, a study conducted by Zenger Folkman found that when empowerment is low, only 4% of employees are likely to put in the extra effort. In contrast, when employees feel empowered, that number rises to 67%.
Develop a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Encourage input from all staff and try to create a positive work environment, where people felt valued and respected.
5. Look after workers' wellbeing
Ever wake up with back pain or wondered what makes height-adjustable lab benches so special? Have a look at your workspace ergonomics.
Making sure your environment and furniture are well-suited to your ergonomic needs can make a world of difference when it comes to comfort and productivity. Workplace design can often be responsible for awkward postures. For example, work surfaces might be too low or too high, causing employees to sit in an uncomfortable positions in their chairs. Other typical awkward postures noted in the lab include looking down frequently, awkwardly holding the pipette, monitors being too low and keyboards or desktops placed too high.
6. Organize your Lab
How often do you find yourself searching for reagents, solutions, and information in the lab?
A laboratory that doesn't maintain cleanliness will soon encounter common problems associated with disorganization, such as the wasting of materials and man hours. The importance of organization becomes apparent since laboratories run dozens of experiments per day, involving all kinds of materials and equipment.
For example, you can keep all supplies and tools needed for a process or protocol together, such as weigh stations near the chemical supply with analytical balances, weighing dishes, and lab scoops. If you're going to install built-in cabinetry, consider adjustable shelving instead.
7. Calibrate instruments regularly
Calibrated instruments minimize any measurement uncertainty. The truth is, calibration doesn't have to be a manual process. To a certain degree, lab managers can now automate instrument calibration by using cloud-based scheduling and procedures. Not only does this make instrument management more efficient, but it also lowers the risk of human error.
With well-calibrated instruments, users get improved efficiency and products that always meet the intended quality standards.
8. Remove Distractions
Did you know, it takes an average of about 25 minutes to reorient after a distraction? That’s how many minutes of concentration you lose.
In a lab environment, comfort and convenience are especially important. Some of the most commonly cited distractions in laboratories are excessive noise and visual interruptions. This is why setting up a specialized lab area is a wise investment. It can keep employees from getting distracted and help them focus on their work.
Introducing headphones and pink noise into the environment can help reduce distractions for laboratory staff. The POMODORO Technique is one proven method to help retain concentration. Additionally, having an organized workspace can play an important role in creating a distraction-free workplace.
Teamwork keeps the barriers out! In the lab, having good relationships with your colleagues impacts more than you might think. And good relationships begin with good communication. If you need to provide colleagues with steps to perform an experiment, be as clear as possible (also with written backup) and provide them with everything they may need to carry out that experiment.
Be sure to check on them throughout the process to ensure they're on the right track. And if they're struggling, walk them through the process, step-by-step.
10. Improve your Inventory
Every lab runs more effectively with a laboratory inventory management system in place. It becomes much easier to track inventory orders, helps you save time, and improves your lab efficiency.
Creating a stock list, grouping inventory items into categories, and investing in a proper storage system can help achieve the goal of stock control in the laboratory. Having stock control in the lab assures that there will be no shortage of materials, may not affect the quality of testing, and decreases the operating costs of the lab.
We hope that you found it useful and that it has inspired you to implement some of our tips in your lab.