The keys to efficiency are versatility and mobility. The design for any workspace should consider those two principles. When it comes to lab design, efficiency can be expanded to include storage solutions to create an optimized workspace.
Multiple Use Storage
Both floorplans and the lab tables they contain can take advantage of the multiple-use principle. For example, if a workbench can be used for two different workflows, then it bypasses the need to increase floor capacity and install two separate pieces of furniture.
When it is necessary to make maximum use of minimal resources, sometimes mastering a particular task isn’t as crucial as making provisions for both. This is true when pursuing any objective that requires versatility.
Bringing the Work to You
If lab personnel make continual use of storage space, making the storage solutions mobile may improve efficiency. If a piece of furniture has unique features that are in constant use, bringing it closer to personnel increases efficiency.
Setting up a space so lab workers don’t have to cross the room several times to retrieve and replace equipment does the same. Workers can be made mobile by optimizing open floor space and arranging workbenches strategically when permanent benches and fixtures cannot be portable.
Good laboratory work requires a great deal of writing and documenting. Paper notebooks, mobile devices, and books often find their way to lab tables. And then those items end up damaged or destroyed by chemical spills because there isn’t enough space to fit everything on the workbench surface.
Efficiency requires space, and space can only be acquired if it is part of a design principle. Documents, equipment, and experiments can be damaged if there is too much crowding or clutter on the workbench surface.
Imagine an entirely new lab worker walks into a facility. Which is the better option?
1. Requiring them to look for everything a first time and then relying on their memory to find it again
2. Labeling everything in the lab, so there is no question where items are stored.
If storage efficiency can be improved by mobility and versatility, it can be improved again by making it crystal clear where everything is by a glance.
The human brain is very good at two things:
1. Pattern recognition
2. Terrain mapping
Human beings see patterns in everything, and they can remember where important things are with seemingly infinite capacity. Setting up your workspace to take advantage of these two talents makes everything more efficient by design. It creates that mythical combination of efficiencies called “synergy.”