Do you want an office connected to your lab?


Wouldn’t it be great to have your office connected to your research lab?


Wouldn’t it be great to have your office separate from your research lab?

I’ve seen it both ways. I’ve never had my office connected to my lab, and my lab has always been a 30-second walk from my office, give or take a bit. And the lab has always been out of sight of my office, which often means that it’s out of mind.

I’d like to see my research students when they come in, and I want the lab in mind more frequently. And I want to make sure that happens in the lab is research, with a good dose of collegiality.

On the other hand, being in a suite of offices with my colleagues, as long as they’re good people, is nice too. One of the things that makes my small department wonderful is the people, and the casual hallway chats are often valuable. But a faculty office zone isn’t compatible with having our labs connected to our offices, which also is good.

I’m tempted to just move into my lab instead of using my office. If it’s not a good idea, I can just move back.

What do you have, and what would you prefer? Are you aware of any innovative designs that you think work best?

4 thoughts on “Do you want an office connected to your lab?

  1. I guess this would depend on how much you participate in research. Having your office separate is probably best for writing, and allows the students some breathing room to do their work in the lab. It is also probably best to have a separate safe space for students to come to you with problems or concerns and not be in view of the rest of the lab.

  2. Office as close to lab as possible. I’ve heard possibly apocryphal stories of studies correlating the distance between office and lab and productivity, and it’s negative. This certainly jives with my own experience. It’s too easy to sit in your office and write and write and not get data.

  3. I’ve had both now (albeit as a student/post-doc, but still…). It was GREAT to have my office in the lab. I developed great relationships with my labmates, was always up on what everyone was doing, and was only moments (or a quick shout) away from getting a question answered. The negative was mainly that it was pretty hard to concentrate on writing, as I was constantly distracted by research (always more interesting) or fun conversations about research. On the other hand, it is WONDERFUL to have my office away from the lab. I can walk away from the research and focus on finally answering emails, filling out paperwork, etc. My office is one floor down from my research and two floors down from our lab space. I don’t really see my labmates that often, but I get an insane workout on the stairs as I’m regularly running up and down the stairs (usually because whatever I need is always in a different lab or office. Always). There was a chance we were going to move my wasps to another building, and I vehemently fought against that – too far. It is nice, though, to be able to focus on whatever it is I need to do at my desk when I finally sit down to do it. The downside is when there is less research going on, and I spend an inordinate amount of time in my office analyzing or writing. It’s isolating and I find myself searching for labmates, who may or may not be lingering in the lab.

    As a student, my advisor had an office in the lab with us. That was great because we always knew where to find her and didn’t have to run far to see if she was available for a quick question. As a post-doc, my advisor is in an office separate from the lab. I try to pop by if I have a quick question, and sometimes she’s there, sometimes she’s not. But, I’m able to set up last minute meetings with her if needed, so both ways work. The first is great if you don’t mind if students disrupt you for quick questions. The second is great if you’re willing to set up last minute mini-meetings, and your students are aware of this policy.

  4. I would say a lot depends on which phase of work are you in. When in an intense lab time, the closer you are to the lab the better. Somehow I think the whole lab environment is more conducive to lab work including ideas. However, sometimes you need to get away to focus on other issues. I share office space with non-scientists, and I have incredible discussions with them about teaching and the creative process, for example. Which is great if you are in the writing process.

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