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Working Productively With the CharFac Staff

Throughout one’s interaction with the CharFac, it is important to understand the nature of activity in a service lab such as the CharFac.  Firstly, staff calendars may be booked many hours per day with rigid appointments that should not be interrupted except in urgent situations.  Some everyday examples include training classes; prescheduled assistance; sample analysis or instrument testing/development/calibration during booked time; prescheduled internal meetings; curricular teaching; scheduled meetings/tours with people from outside of the U of M.  Secondly, the gaps between booked time can be filled with other work that is urgent, such as helping users overcome critical problems; confronting a sudden equipment failure, breakage, power outage, etc.; meeting a rigid deadline (e.g., proposal, extended abstract).

The remainder of the workday may be filled with a large volume of e-mail correspondence as well as activity such as data processing/reporting, preparing purchases and proposals, generating documentation for classes and marketing, organizing workshops, and preparing presentations (i.e., difficult as it is in narrow slices of time).

Given the above, we ask users/clients to recognize that it is a disruption to the workflow and productivity of the CharFac to

  • expect lengthy assistance sessions without scheduling in advance;
  • show up without appointment to discuss matters that are not urgent;
  • call to discuss issues that are easily communicated, or at least previewed, via email (i.e., at times when the staff can devote attention to them);
  • bypass scheduling a phone or in-person meeting with an impromptu phone call (i.e., expecting lengthy discussion at a moment's notice);
  • show up unannounced with a group of visitors in expectation of a tour or meeting;
  • interact with CharFac staff in a way that is very different from how one would interact with other professional service entities (e.g., physicians office) where scheduled appointments are the order of the day.