Vicky Zhou
Jan 21 · 3 min read

by Danny Cho, Alice Fang, Rachel Lee, Jaclyn Saik, and Vicky Zhou

Process

We went to Construction Junction twice to observe the common employee areas, once on Thursday (1/17), and once on Sunday (1/20). Due to the limited nature of our proposed space — the employee common areas — we had to gain permission to enter these private spaces and had difficulty in fully understanding the space without intruding into employee’s personal spaces. Throughout this process, we tried to study and document their common areas and personal relics and/or habits in the most truthful light without sacrificing confidentiality. However, needless to say, we stood out among the employees because of how we were 1. in close proximity with their personal spaces and belongings and 2. a decent amount of people that quickly stood out due to the lack of manpower in general.

Our loose interpretation of the layout of Construction Junction

Documentation

For documentation, we took pictures of communal spaces, recorded audio of employee conversations, sketched out what we envisioned the layout looked like, and jotted down notes of interactions, objects, and other environments we saw.

Bathroom — signage on urinal says “Do not use”, and another sign within the stall reminding others to be courteous towards others when using a shared space.
Outside the break room; trinkets and fun gimmicks align the windowsill.
Break room; one employee is seated at the very end of the room, and the room seems to be never occupied by no more than two people at a time although the seating and space suggest that it could very well fit many more.
Communal kitchen appliances; sign on coffee maker encourages other staff to refill coffee pot when empty. More personal posters and items (ex. trophies) align the table.
Lunch break board, no more than one person during one lunch break at a time. This creates a very isolating and lonely break period.
Walkie Talkies in communal work space — how employees interact with each other; a step up from using pagers.

Findings

We compiled our observations onto our own personalized data collection sheet consisting of 1) Activities, 2) Environment 3) Objects 4) Interactions and 5) Stakeholders.

Thursday observations pt 1
Thursday observations pt 2
Sunday observations
an approximate floor plan

Analysis

Based on our observations and interactions with items, people, and environment in its current and past state, we concluded several factors:

Little overlap for employee’s lunch break, short breaks throughout the day (Approx. 50 minutes per day)

  • lack of manpower
  • creates sense of isolation especially because of the square footage of the space vs the number of actual employees

Presence of humorous signs within the space (e.g. on coffee machine)

  • environment feels lived in, home-y

Space could have better lighting

  • space is too dim
  • low level lit spaces contributes to a dreary, lonely, and tiresome feeling

Sense of community, e.g. photos, notices

  • helping each other find lost items
  • posters that show personal beliefs e.g. “Stronger than hate”
  • photos of employees on fridge

Also have space for personal expression

  • a lot of personal trinkets to be found in employee common areas
  • e.g. decorated lockers

Safety signs posted throughout the area

  • some serious, some humorous
  • regard for both employee and customer safety
  • signages that separates the employees-only space and visitor space
  • lack of people cause more signs to be put up

CMU Design Research Methods // Spring 2019

Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20 PM MM A11 // This half-semester course is about research in design, and mostly about research through design — how to use the methods and skills you’re learning as a designer, to investigate questions in the world, generate and evaluate ideas.

Vicky Zhou

Written by

CMU Design Research Methods // Spring 2019

Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20 PM MM A11 // This half-semester course is about research in design, and mostly about research through design — how to use the methods and skills you’re learning as a designer, to investigate questions in the world, generate and evaluate ideas.

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