Innovation is defined as the action or process of innovating. Although a noun, innovation sparks action in our brains; forward-motion, ever-changing, always-adapting, idea-seeking. At the core, VIA is always searching for the best way possible. How can we best design this for the end user? What steps can I take to save 5 minutes, even 30 seconds, on this task? What innovation will propel VIA forward ahead of the competition? VIA is innovative. VIA is always willing to try out new ideas and opportunities, always looking for the best solution. This process always helps because maybe what we tried is not what we thought it would be, but it led us to a better solution. As a collective group, we are always striving to accelerate our knowledge of the software we use. This is for innovation to remain relevant, but also for efficiency. The creation of VIA’s Workflow Boost has led to assigning “Team Captains” for each of the different programs we use. The Team Captains are responsible as the go-to resources in the office when someone needs help or additional training. Team Captains share their knowledge with others, but others are always encouraged to let the group know if they’ve found a new trick or a better way to accomplish a task. The opportunity to be a “Team Captain” is open to all employees and participation is encouraged!
We use building information modeling (BIM) software to technically and creatively design our projects in a 3-dimensional format. The decision to transition to Revit was one of the first technology betterments Scott Campbell initiated during his tenure at VIA. By becoming experts in one software, we are able to capitalize on the talents of our staff and teach and share knowledge of all of our best practices. This creates uniformity and an understanding of the “VIA way” that everyone comes to learn and adopt. We have also invested in an Oculus Virtual Reality headset to bring our designs to life in a virtual environment. This innovation provides an excellent client experience, allowing them to explore their design concepts in virtual reality.
VIA's Just Label
Client and Contractor Viewing VR Panorama On-Site
VR Panorama View
Our office, The Essex Building, is a complete innovation in itself. At the onset of the project, building owners Donna Phaneuf and Scott Campbell were approached by SIEMENS Industries, Inc. to discuss the opportunity to become a beta testing site for innovative technologies. This partnership led to a fully integrated autonomous system for building controls. To date, SIEMENS has installed HVAC Systems, Fire System Monitoring, Motion Controlled Lighting, a Video Doorbell, Controls and Video Monitoring for Building Security, Automatic Roller Shades, Temperature Controls, and Employee Access Protocols throughout our office in the Essex Building. These technologies advance our office experience beyond anything we could imagine. Our SIEMENS partnership also introduced a Touchway monitor into the office. This touch-screen monitor provides an interactive setting for staff and guests to explore VIA’s projects, building, website, and other content in a digital environment.
An innovation that goes beyond the technical side of things is VIA’s adoption of the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) JUST 2.0 Label. This social transparency tool has allowed VIA to showcase our inclusivity, equality, employee benefits and wellness offerings, and community impact endeavors. When we came across the JUST 2.0 label and submission process, we did an initial “pulse check” to see where we stood on the policies that the JUST 2.0 program had set. We found that we were already high performers on many of the indicators of the label. We compiled our internal data and standing policies, added some new policies as recommended by ILFI, and increased certain benefits for staff, and set off to receive our first JUST 2.0 label. Participating in this program has brought further innovation to VIA because we now get to use our Label as a recruitment, marketing, and employee benefits tool.
VIA’s goal is to continue pushing the envelope when it comes to innovative ideas and designs in the way that we work and the way that we perform our services to clients, consultant teams, community members, and our staff. Will you continue “raising the bar” with us?