It seems early to be thinking about December 2022 right now, but lab experiment planning can never start early enough. With so many moving pieces, and many teams using shared equipment, working with complex supply chains, and dealing with tight budgets, efficiency is key for any successful biotech lab.
Here are strategies to plan out a year of lean experiments and social events to keep the lab a fun, productive environment with happy team members.
1. Host a lab kickoff meeting to align all teams
It is crucial to keep your team informed. By kicking off your year with team members aligned, there will be less opportunities for unexpected expenses, delays in approvals, and inefficient workflows. Get your team set up for success by giving necessary information to all stakeholders, reviewing roadblocks from the past year, and exploring ways to be more agile and efficient in the coming year.
2. Create a general experiment timeline, starting with milestones
The earlier you can plan for experiments, the better you’ll be able to mitigate any unexpected bumps along the way. Let’s say you finally get that round of funding you need to get started, but you hadn’t started researching the required materials and supplies. Now that you have funding, you go to order the products and find out they’ll be delayed for 3 months. By carefully planning out your experiments, supplies, and staff, you can maximize your employees’ time spent in the lab and reduce time to milestones.
3. Establish a cloud-based project management system for experiment tracking and team alignment
With cloud-based software, your team won’t need to worry about being physically in the lab space to be productive. For multi step projects and managing specific deliverables, experiment tracking will help keep you on schedule and keep all stakeholders in the loop on any updates, timeline changes, or tasks. Many teams use software like Asana or Trello to manage long-term projects or short-term sprints.
4. Plan team building activities at least once per quarter, virtually or in-person
Lab environments can be isolating, particularly now, during the pandemic where labs may have reduced capacities or staggered shifts. This means that team building is more important than ever before. Make a conscious effort to plan team building activities for your lab staff where you can let loose in a relaxed environment at least once every quarter.
Some lab team building activities are:
- Trivia night
- Wine or whiskey tasting
- Cooking class
- Paint night or pottery making
- Board games
5. Host larger group events, incorporating your team's significant others, roommates, families, or friends once or twice a year.
In a traditional year, maybe your lab would host a holiday party or happy hour to provide an opportunity for mingling and meeting team members’ family and friends. To maintain this lab social event, host a virtual open house or happy hour where people can come and go from a Zoom meeting or Google Hangout and bring their housemates along to introduce them to friends from work. Choose a fun theme like ugly sweaters, or BYO pet and create a casual, low pressure environment for people to connect.
With a healthy mix of research, socialization, and opportunities for new ideas, your lab is sure to have a productive year. Team building is just as important as critical research time and helps your lab team feel engaged, excited, and work best together. Gather input from all lab members while you plan out your upcoming year.