Need to keep your lab functional while renovating? Consider these 3 fundamentals

To keep competitive in a world where research and teaching demands evolve at breakneck speeds, an update of lab facilities is quite simply par for the course. Renovations are often a tricky task to undertake; however, when it is crucial that your lab remain functioning during the process, the complexity of the project rises exponentially. Having worked with a multitude of clients that couldn’t afford extended periods of laboratory downtime, we’ve decided to highlight a few points that should give lab managers some guidance as to how to minimise disruptions as much as possible.


  • Get your staff on-board and ensure that their safety is of paramount importance


Renovations are disruptive – this fact cannot be avoided, and to help your staff adjust to the various inconveniences it is imperative that they understand how the new lab will better their work experience. In order to do this, clear communication about what to expect from the new lab and what to expect during the renovation must take place. By showing that their safety and (best achievable) levels of comfort are non-negotiable priorities, the chances that they’ll adopt a positive and flexible attitude are greatly enhanced. Protective gear, especially ear and eye protection and dust masks, should be figured into the project’s budget. Whereas an experienced contractor will never block fire and emergency exits, for example, it is best to constantly ask staff for feedback, giving them a hand in their own safety and including them in the process of the renovation.


  • Know and articulate your critical processes and output aims during the pre-design stage


The earlier you are aware of the workflows and systems that need to be kept functional during the renovation the better. These data are fundamental to the design process as well as to project management. For example, ventilation shafts or utilities may need to be temporarily installed in a section of the lab that will be made operational for a certain period during the renovation. Moving these shafts/utilities to their final position will require drawings that indicate both phases of the construction process. Having a detailed knowledge of your lab’s work necessities will result in a design and project schedule that minimises unforeseen, and costly, obstacles.


  • Keep your final objective in mind


As mentioned, renovations will present your lab with unavoidable disruptions. Unfortunately, as much as one may prepare in terms of new workflow plans, lists of equipment that will be affected, output expectations and costs, stressful moments will likely occur. Staff may experience frustrations when their work is slowed or momentarily stopped, and lab managers may sometimes not fully appreciate the difficulties faced by contractors and their employees. During these moments, it is important to keep the end goal in mind, and engage constructively in the process of problem solving.

The above 3 points are in no sense exhaustive, but they will hopefully impart a few foundational considerations when thinking about renovations that require complex project management. If you have any questions or would like to have a chat with an experienced team, please feel free to contact us.

Happy renovating!