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Channeling a favorite throwback pastime to build future work space

Science has seen incredible and rapid advances in the last 30 years and the old cliché of the mad scientist locked up in his or her lab alone is an outdated image. Today, scientific breakthroughs are more often the product of teamwork than individual genius. And there is no better place for our GSK teams to thrive than in their workplaces.

For our teams in R&D, the workplace of the future provides for neighborhoods of science – where they can work together in bright open environments that make it easy for them to see each other and collaborate; sharing equipment, workflow efficiencies, and process improvements. In addition to empowering collaboration, new labs need to be agile – to quickly and safely reconfigure space to suit changing scientific needs.

All of this is happening now, throughout our R&D sites. In Upper Providence, our US R&D hub, we are designing spaces - called SMART Labs – where science, collaboration, and innovation can flourish. Here we have the ability over a course of the weekend to convert a biology lab into a chemistry lab, for example.

In creating our preliminary lab designs, we interviewed and shadowed our scientists, and reviewed how the current space was used. We also applied insights from the transition of our corporate offices into SMART Working spaces with a variety of options for collaborative and quiet spaces for employees.

We then we took the lab design process one step further, having teams participate in user-centered design—with LEGO™ models! Scientists came together to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and envision their space alongside the design team. They presented the functions and capabilities of their individual business area– capturing process and equipment synergies, concerns and risks along the way. The lab design was tweaked and changed in response to their feedback. For example, we decided to co-locate equipment in “capability zones” to improve the use of space as well as the scientific process.

Having our scientists directly involved in the design of their own space has ensured they feel comfortable and engaged in their new working environment - where science, collaboration and innovation can flourish – and where everyone gets a chance to play with LEGO bricks again.

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