Efficiency is one of the biggest concerns for any laboratory. You're always looking for the best way to optimize employee time and complete more processes in less time. But working to streamline lab processes takes a lot more than just quick employees. With proper organization, thorough planning, and optimal design, you can get the streamlined processes you're looking for. Here are a few ideas you may not have considered that can help streamline your lab processes:
Often the most overlooked efficiency influencers, your lab design has a lot to do with how quickly your employees can complete processes. Today, one of the most popular designs guaranteed to increase efficiency is an open concept design. Open concept lab designs eliminate traffic backups and keep your employees moving swiftly through the lab, without running into one another. With an open concept lab, you don't have to worry about one employee walking through another's workstation, as everything is designed with efficiency in mind. Additionally, open concept lab designs give employees more visibility, so they can better monitor processes from various points of your laboratory.
Standardized Process Guides
Another, more common way of streamlining lab processes is to standardize procedures. When employees know exactly when and how to complete their tasks, processes flow much more efficiently. Detailed process guides let employees know what to do in case of emergency, or in the event that something goes wrong, eliminating the precious time it would take for employees to troubleshoot problems themselves. Additionally, standardized process guides ensure that employees are not in each others' way. If each employee is following their process guide appropriately, there should be little overlap in high traffic areas like fume hoods and sinks.
Implementing Parallel Lab Processes
In the same vein as creating standardized process guides, it's also a major time saver to implement parallel lab processes with their own standardized guides. Some processes can easily be conducted simultaneously by one or two employees, which seriously cuts down on time. So long as you have a detailed guide that shows employees how to effectively run parallel processes, you can save a great deal of time, and boost productivity.
Studies have shown that workers with clear, organized workstations are often considerably more efficient than those with messy or untidy workstations. Encourage employees to organize their own workspaces at the beginning of the day so that they can best perform their processes. It's often most beneficial to leave the organization up to the individual so they can set up their workstation for their specific jobs and work methods. Simply encouraging employees to take that extra few minutes to get set up at the beginning of every day can do a lot to increase productivity and streamline lab processes.
Open Communication and Clear Chain of Command
Whether you're managing multiple labs, or you just have a small lab with a few employees, open communication is the key to efficient processes. It's also important to have a clear chain of command so employees know exactly who to go to in the event of an issue. When there's open communication within the lab, it's easy to know who's doing what and to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Open communication between labs is also paramount to ensure that each lab is monitoring the proper processes and that tests are standardized between locations. Employees should feel comfortable with the chain of command so they can seek guidance from the proper contact person immediately following an issue or question.
Encouraging Employee Teamwork
Along with open communication, employee collaboration is an excellent way to ensure that your lab is functioning as efficiently as possible. Though collaboration may not be necessary for every process, there are many that go much quicker with one or two more employees working on them. Employee teamwork should be encouraged as much as possible because the more your workers collaborate, the more efficient your processes will be. Teamwork goes hand in hand with open communication and can do a lot to improve your work environment, which in turn increases productivity.
Lab processes are often best streamlined through innovative design and flexible, open concept laboratories. If you're looking to make your lab more efficient through design, be sure to contact the experts at Multi-Lab. We've been designing labs for years now, and are known for our innovative, open design concepts made custom for each client. Give our office a call at 616-846-6990 or contact us online today!