Believe It or Not, There Are Some Pandemic Silver Linings for Water Labs

The pandemic has certainly created challenges for water lab managers, but these challenges can lead to personal and professional growth. Water labs are in a unique position because they've continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 crisis to maintain public health and water safety.

While it's easy to focus on all the negatives presented by the pandemic, it's important to take a moment to reflect on the following silver linings that have come out of working during this challenging time.

New Opportunities for Wastewater Testing

Water labs can meaningfully contribute to the pandemic response by testing untreated wastewater for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This method has shown to be helpful in detecting COVID-19 outbreaks and providing an early warning about spikes in the community. It gives a more accurate picture of the virus situation in the community so that public health officials can make evidence-based decisions about business reopening plans. Adding this offering may also introduce you to a new customer base that could become a recurring source of revenue.

Streamlined Emergency Preparation

This chaotic year has been like a long-term fire drill. New restrictions push you to get organized and prepare for worst-case scenarios, forcing your lab to conduct real-life exercises in emergency preparedness. As difficult as it is to manage in the moment, this time has helped to set your lab up for future success because you've optimized daily operations, adopted new communication tools, and developed enhanced safety protocols. The next time you face a crisis (which will hopefully be smaller than a global pandemic), you will already know exactly what to do to keep your team safe while maintaining operations.

Deeper Team Relationships

When lab managers do things like provide adequate personal protective equipment, stagger shifts to avoid crowding, provide paid sick leave, and reconfigure workspaces to put distance between people, it shows employees that they truly care about their safety. This can build trust and deepen relationships between managers and employees. The Society for Human Resource Management backs this up, pointing out that when managers show trust and empathy, workers' performance can improve.

Plus, working toward a mutual goal of personal and public safety can improve team-building and employee engagement. According to Lab Manager, the COVID-19 crisis has prompted many lab employees to assume even more responsibilities. The mentality that your team is all in this together will provide a strong foundation that you can lean on in future trying times.

Better Lab Sanitation

The pandemic introduced water lab managers to additional business protocols, like extra disinfection and sanitation measures that added to your overflowing to-do list. But these new procedures could have bonus effects later this year and beyond — like preventing your staff from getting other infections like the common cold and flu.


One of the biggest benefits of working through the pandemic is that this experience builds resilience. By continuing to operate during this difficult time, you have proven to your team and your clients that you will be there for them, no matter what challenges you face.

While there are certainly a lot of negatives coming out of the COVID-19 era, there are also opportunities and lessons that will help us in the long run. New business opportunities, deeper relationships with employees, and better structure in your business operations will all help you long after this unimaginable year is over.

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Kelly McSweeney
Science and Technology Writer
Armed with a master's degree in writing and a decade of professional work in scientific publishing, Kelly McSweeney writes about science and technology innovations. She translates complicated topics into stories that capture the curiosity of everyone from casual readers to technical experts. Kelly has degrees from Emerson College and the University of Vermont, and has worked on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics publications at Wiley, In Compliance magazine, and Pearson. Her articles about the latest research are published by ZDNet, Northrop Grumman, and Wiley.