Providing the right menu of spaces. In order for a lab manager to provide researcher’s needs and gain researcher satisfaction, the research environment should have the right types of spaces, in the right proportions, to facilitate daily research activities.
A modern research environment will include spaces for thinking, doing and sharing. Oftentimes, the lab manager is the most informed person to make recommendations regarding research space types, sizes, and quantities.
Developing a clear space allocation strategy. The lab manager has to decide and assign research spaces to certain resources. The space allocation strategy is dependent on whether the lab design is driven by people, process, or specialized tools and equipment. Knowing if the space is to be assigned to individuals or to teams, or if there is a preference for sharing lab functions and equipment over clearly delineated/dedicated workstations matters. The lab’s layout must be evaluated as a whole, made by the sum of its measurable parts.
Planning for change management. Research activity evolves. This means that the built environment has to change to keep pace. The designer and the lab manager should work together in incorporating appropriate and flexible strategies for future adjustment, ensuring that these won’t impact research operations and incur unnecessary costs.
This includes relying on concepts such as:
inclusive and adjustable casework systems
flex zones between low and high-intensity research zones, allowing for expansion and contraction
accessible utility infrastructure
Conducting post-occupancy evaluation. This is to determine if the project goals have been met and can be done on core members of the project delivery team who reconvene 6 months to a year after the facility has been occupied. The lab manager can provide useful feedback while the design team can report on what worked and what hasn’t. The evaluation allows for the initiation of remedies to problems and preventing future mistakes.
Both the lab designer and the lab manager must be willing to articulate their concerns in order to reach consensus and meet the objectives. However, solutions need to be constantly confirmed or adjusted to align with expectations.