Today we're talking with Ashley Weathers about how she views employee engagement, audiovisual integration, and light when she's designing. Ashley is a designer in our Savannah office. She holds a BFA with a concentration in interior design from Winthrop University, an associate IIDA certification, and a Modular Wall Design 1 & 2 Application Software certification. She's also a member of the IIDA.
If employees are comfortable and happy in their workplace environments, then they're more likely to perform better and become more efficient. Say, for example, they have an ergonomic chair and work tools such as keyboard trays and monitor arms. Now they're not distracted by discomfort and they may work harder and longer. That is why we make sure to include such tools and aids that help increase this engagement.
I design a room with A/V in mind depending on the use of the space. Will they be teleconferencing? Or using the space to share information? Will they need power to hook up a laptop? Depending on the answers to these questions will determine if we need to specify Media:scape, or a powered conference table, or maybe incorporating an ENO board. These different technology-integrated products help bridge the gap so information can be shared in the most effective way. Integrating media and technology is going to be huge in 2017 and I'm excited to use the My Exponents mobile tv unit. It's a great way to incorporate media with flexibility in mind and could really work in any application: corporate, education, and possibly healthcare.
The first thing I think of when I'm designing a space is how natural light affects how people work. For me, when I sit next to a window, I feel more productive because it seems to brighten my mood. When the shades are down, it seems to have the opposite effect. When there's no natural light source I try to use as much glass as possible in my designs. It makes the space seem more open and airy and catches any light that might be streaming into the windows. I combine that with the use of task lights or lamps to help amplify the effect.
In November the McWaters designers visited the Steelcase Worklife Center in Atlanta and Ashley came back inspired:
The most inspiring thing I saw at the Atlanta Worklife Center was the Bivi setup. The way they incorporated different zones within the one setup was really mindful. They included the heads down work zones for task-oriented work, social zones for collaboration, and the small mediascape zone for information sharing. By incorporating all of this into one system, they were able to maximize the real estate and functionality.
Something that inspired me was using a ribbed painted tile on the outside of an Answer workstation. I was not aware that you could get the textured tile, but it was beautifully executed and added a little bit of interest to the workstation. It dresses up the station a little more than a standard painted tile.
They also had a very intentional use of color throughout the showroom. It added excitement and a chance to carry through with branding. I think the pops of colors on the chairs and accessories really helped to freshen up the design and it's something I'd like to incorporate into my designs more in 2017.
This interview is part of our Partners in Design series where we get insights and tips from our talented design team.