In this difficult time, the COVID-19 virus infection rate is rising quickly, and the future timing of “returning to normal” is unknown. Scientists, lab technicians and healthcare personnel are frantically utilizing the equipment, space and consumables they currently have available, and many are desperately asking for more.
Many facilities around the country already have or are busy retooling their businesses to make items in high demand, like ventilators or hand sanitizer. Some are accelerating research, development and drug trials to hyper speeds never seen before. All these changes have likely created some logistical bottlenecks. I’m sure anyone involved in this situation is quickly learning about the successes and failures of flexibility, adaptability, utility infrastructure and adequate space.
Many institutions have been doing what they can to open process and procedural blockages, but isn’t there another important issue, as it pertains to physical space?
If or when a similar event happens in the future, as difficult as it may seem, right now is the time to evaluate your current space and processes. What is working or not working?
- Do you have adequate space for your people and equipment?
- Can your space be reconfigured easily for emergency situations?
- Do you have proper storage for reagents and consumables?
- Is your storage space for hazardous materials safe (does it meet building code requirements)?
- How much time is wasted moving from one area of your workspace to another?
- How about down-time spaces for people to take a break and connect with others?
You’ve likely heard that innovation can be disruptive, but let’s consider embracing the idea that disruption can fuel creation! Remodeling your space that’s already bustling with insane amounts of activities and changes isn’t possible. However, we can’t miss current opportunities to identify those bottlenecks or inefficiencies in your space, preventing you from doing your very best. When this pandemic is behind us and you’re getting back to business as usual, perhaps it would be a good time to make some needed reconfigurations to your lab and support workspace. We’re all looking forward to slightly updated and better normal, and as a science and technology planning specialist, I look forward to hearing about your experience during these times and what we can do to transform the spaces you work in.