Years ago, I worked for a major IC vendor and learned an interesting lesson about the different perspectives of what a "lab" is. We hired a Ph.D. chemist who had worked at Polaroid (their demise is a sad and educational story, but for another time) and who had gone back to school for an MBA. She was quite sharp and had lots of good insight (and also understood what she had yet to learn about the IC industry, unlike some swelled-headed folks I have met).
One day, after she had been there a while, we went to lunch and I asked her about the biggest R&D cultural difference she saw between a company such as Polaroid and ours. Her answer completely surprised me. She said it was the meaning and implications of the "lab."
At Polaroid, the lab was a serious wet-chemistry operation with strict safety rules and protocols, emergency showers, white coats, exhaust hoods, and gloves. At an IC vendor, a lab was a test bench where ICs were evaluated, application circuits were developed, and ideas were tried out. No special safety rules were needed, except common sense and good engineering practice (such as ESD precautions for the ICs, not for the people); just about everything on the bench ran on supply rails of 24 V and most were well below that potential. People would walk in and out of the lab without any special precautions or planning.
She added that one of the most startling incidents she'd had in her first weeks at the new job was when one of the application engineers suggested she bring her lunch along to the lab, so they could discuss some new product at the test bench and see the setup and waveforms on the various scopes. Not only was eating lunch in the lab at Polaroid a violation of protocol, it would have been pretty foolish, with all the chemicals, glass beakers, and other nastiness at the bench.
Next time you wander over to the test and breadboard bench, whether it's yours or you are just visiting a co-worker, think about how easy you have it compared to the wet-chemistry/biolab professionals. It's also a reminder of how the same words can have very different implications to different members of an audience.♦