Tips For a More Effective Research Lab

Whether you’re a lab manager or own a business that requires work in a research lab, the key to success is keeping laboratories running smoothly.  An organized lab ensures quality results as well as improves productivity.  And if your business success is contingent upon faultless research and smooth production, then you know how crucial it is to have a lab that runs like a well-oiled machine.  Considering this, here are some top-notch tips to get your research lab operating seamlessly and effectively.

Invest in Lab Managers

One of the leading science journals known as Nature, conducted a survey of over 3200 scientists which revealed that the number one culprit for subpar lab performance is due to poor management.  Specifically, lab managers tend to fall short of interpersonal skills when relating to lab staff. 

While the Nature survey showed managers received high marks in terms of performing regular duties and achieving impressive research results – many managers lacked social skills when communicating with the staff. In fact, the survey revealed an alarming majority of laboratory staffers claimed that managers were dismissive or downright rude when communicating instruction to subordinates. 

This often results in a soured work environment with latent resentments or personality conflicts.  In turn, this manifests into substandard working conditions in a research lab.  In order to attain better efficiency and a more appealing work environment, lab managers should receive adequate training in interpersonal relationships and cultivate better communication in the laboratory.

Get Vigilant About Organization and Inventory

A big challenge in any research lab is organizing endless details and having all lab staff equally informed at every phase of research.  Many research lab projects entail mind-boggling efforts that demand adequate supplies and resources. That’s where lab inventory management system software can keep lab staff on top of required supplies in order to keep projects on track from start to finish..

With inventory management software, lab staff are able to access the full inventory which can enable them to keep shelves and racks fully stocked.  A research lab is only as good as its ability to complete projects without costly setbacks.  As such, laboratories must be vigilant about organizing inventory and making it available to lab workers in order to reduce mistakes, confusion or delays in progress.

Keep the Lab Clean and Orderly

While keeping inventory organized is critical for a highly functional lab, keeping the lab itself clean and orderly is just as crucial. Achieving optimal performance in a lab simply cannot be accomplished when the facility is unclean, untidy, or in disarray.  At the close of every day, lab staff must clean the lab thoroughly.  Furthermore, equipment, keyboards and countertops must be spotless at the end of business. 

Additionally, make sure that all supplies are put away so that they can be easily accessed the next business day.  Make every effort to encourage lab workers to stay organized and keep work stations tidy throughout the day.  Keeping an uncluttered, clean laboratory might seem like an obvious factor in maintaining a quality lab.  However, this key factor should never be underestimated because a clean and orderly lab can mean the difference between shoddy results or excellent performance in the lab.   

Put Safety First

It should go without saying that safety should be the utmost focus of any research lab.  When assessing what every lab needs, must-have items should include ample personal protection equipment such as goggles, masks, gloves, etc.  Furthermore, it’s vital to equip any lab with contingencies such as safety stations in case of emergencies. Additionally, every lab must have safety manuals and protocols in place in the event something in the lab goes awry. 

When it comes to keeping a productive, efficient lab, safety must come first.  With this in mind, you may want to hire a laboratory safety consultant to ensure the lab meets regulations and requirements.  Doing this will enhance safety conditions for the staff, help avoid mishaps in the future and will definitely go a long way to establishing a smoother running lab environment.

Stay On Top of Maintenance

Ask any lab manager, and he or she will tell you that maintaining laboratory equipment is essential.  It’s true that your research lab might be incredibly busy, but that’s no excuse to let equipment maintenance fall by the wayside. Therefore, make sure lab equipment is calibrated, serviced, and meets regulations. This includes lab computers, which should be updated as well as equipped with adequate antivirus software.

In conclusion, running a research lab isn’t always easy.  However, laboratory managers can produce better results, attain better turnaround time and achieve an optimally functioning lab by following these key tips.  Ultimately, the success or demise of any research falls on the shoulders of its lab managers and their commitment to maintaining a highly functioning laboratory.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.