As Workplace Studio Leader in the SmithGroup Phoenix office, Michelle views it as her responsibility to "enhance the environment in which a person spends roughly 35 percent of his or her total waking hours." Michelle has studied the research on workplace design, particularly how it shapes worker behavior and performance, and how it supports company goals. "From improving an employee’s health and wellness, to boosting performance and productivity, a company’s culture will live or die based on the strength of these influences," she declares. Michelle says her work on the Valley of the Sun United Way headquarters brought those research results to life. "It changed the dynamic of the office on a macro scale," she notes, citing data like a 59.7-percent increase in workplace effectiveness reported by staff. "Design is so much more than a pretty picture. It affects how we think and feel, which ultimately affects the success of the business."