Fixation on Histology

Tips to Increase Workflow Efficiencies in the Laboratory

Workflow strugglesIn the current atmosphere of workforce shortages and staff burnout, increasing efficiencies in the lab have become critical to success.  However, we all know achieving efficiency can feel easier said than actually done.  With that in mind I have included some of my favorite tips that have helped our organization efficiency and will hopefully help you. 


It is vitally important that an organization invest in training staff members.  An organization is only as strong as their weakest link. Take the time to get the initial training of staff members correct to avoid future incidents from a lack of proper training. Have a method to track performance to help strengthen the weakest link.  

Your training program should include mandatory courses with assessment – ensure the training is completed by each staff member.  Utilize training checklists with assessment to mark the progress of a staff member.  Furthermore, I recommend you set up a continuing education fund to provide staff reimbursement opportunities to further excel in their area of work through continuing education courses, reference books or Journals.

Its worth the effort to educate staff on how to prioritize tasks including Process Maps and Bench duty descriptions with checklists.  Finally, your lab’s standard operating procedures should always be kept up to date and easily accessed by staff. 


Updates to workflow changes should be widely communicated to staff to avoid unnecessary troubleshooting when staff members have deviated from workflow due to a lack of understanding or knowledge.  Communication tools we utilize include Paradigm (a document controlling software to store and share standard operating procedures with staff members) and Huddles (we meet with staff members to provide updates on a regular basis).  During Huddles meeting minutes are taken to share with staff members who are absent from the huddle.


Reducing the use of paper in the laboratory can save time required to sign, file, search, and print as well as save storage space.  Examples of ways to digitize your laboratory include using an E-Signature programs in conjunction with electronic documentation.  Utilize the shared network and cloud storage for files.

Automate Processes

When possible, automation should be incorporated into processes that are repetitive to improve workflow efficiencies. For example, generate barcodes to scan to automate repetitive keystrokes or to minimize human error due to data input through typing.  Use a repeater pipette to minimize repetitive strain injuries, automated instrument to perform assays and/or aliquots.  Utilize a “standing order” with your vendors for frequently used laboratory supplies. 

Comment below if you have other tips to share to increase workflow efficiencies in the laboratory.

Written by Victoria Che