Working in a lab is just like any other job. The products may be slightly more important for the health and continuation of humankind (as the 2.5 million deaths that are prevented every year prove), but at the end of the day, a laboratory is a workspace. And as with all work spaces, sometimes they can get a little cramped. Maybe your coworker is a little too friendly about getting into your personal bubble, or you’ve simply run out of viable counter space — whatever your complaint, there are a few ways to make the best use of the space available.
- Share equipment: The trick to this tip is to create a schedule. Since breathing down each others’ necks is likely to increase the odds of mistakes or accidents, a scheduled time for when certain individuals can use certain equipment allows everyone the opportunity they need to get their work done without stress. Additionally, if you’re sharing vaccine freezers, medical-grade refrigerators, or laboratory freezers, everyone can have their own labeled shelf.
- Tidy up when you can: Tidying can feel like an irritating waste of time, but if you make a habit of clearing away the items that you no longer need as soon as you no longer need them, you’ll find the extra space allows you to both work more efficiently and reduces the risk of confusion. Put empty containers into the sink and dispose of used materials as you go along, and the whole day will run smoother.
- Choose space-saving equipment: Sometimes, the best option is to downsize. Select equipment that is made for a smaller lab, or opt for smaller options of equipment that simply doesn’t need to be as big as it is to function; under-counter lab refrigerators and under-counter lab freezers are an excellent way to maximize the space given to you. Along with labeled shelves, under-counter lab refrigerators can really make a difference in your work environment.
Labs will almost always be shared spaces, so the best way to make the best of the environment you’re forced to work in (and with the people you’re forced to work with) is to simply streamline it as much as possible. Ironically, the extra effort you put in will be paid back to you in productivity: when everyone has a little bit more space to breathe, they’re able to work more fluidly.