Is your office, conference room or break room out of date, ugly or in need of desperate intervention? If so, check out the Workplace Makeover contest that the Daily Herald Business Ledger is kicking off.
For the second consecutive year, the Ledger will help a suburban company improve its office space. Presenting sponsors for the contest include Rieke Office Interiors of Elgin and Des Plaines Office Equipment in Elk Grove Village. Companies interested in tricking out a conference room or other collaboration space can enter at events.dailyherald.com/contests/.
HOW TO ENTER• To enter, go to events.dailyherald.com/contests/
• From there, send us a high resolution photo of your conference room.
• Tell us in a few sentences why your workplace needs a new look.
• Deadline to submit entry is March 10.
• Our workplace makeover sponsors will review the applicants and select five finalists.
• These five entries will be featured in the Daily Herald Business Ledger, as well as in the Daily Herald.
• Winner of $12,000 in improvements will be selected this spring and announced May 29.
"We had tremendous response to last year's contest and we look forward to doing it again this year," said Business Ledger Editor Kim Mikus. "An updated workplace can help to attract and engage employees," she said. In addition, the conference or meeting room makes a lasting first impression on potential clients.
The contest winner will receive $12,000 in improvements including:
• A design consultation, conference table, 10 conference room chairs, up to eight 2-foot by 4-foot ceiling LED troffers with installation and up to 500 square feet of carpeting from Rieke Office Interiors.
• A Sharp 60-inch commercial LED Smart television, a PTZ HD teleconference camera with noise canceling, a wireless computer for Power Point and installation and training, all from Des Plaines Office Equipment.
Other sponsors include LED Rite, Eurotech, Mannington Commercial and Alger Decorating.
A winning look
Last year's winner was Tamarack Products Inc. of Wauconda, a manufacturer of equipment used by printers of business forms and packaging. Employees there are thrilled with the look of their new conference room. "The chairs and table are so comfortable that people actually look forward now to going into a meeting and the lighting is incredible," said Diane McNulty, sales and service coordinator at Tamarack.
The makeover gave them 10 state-of-the-art ergonomic conference chairs, a large conference table, two large recessed LED lighting fixtures, cutting edge presentation technology, new carpeting and freshly painted walls.
Before winning, Tamarack suffered with an out-of-date conference room with white walls, worn carpeting, uncomfortable chairs and a small conference table on which people often bumped their knees.
McNulty boasted about the new presentation technology which allows them to teleconference with overseas customers, showing new products and helping their technicians troubleshoot problems by showing users how to make necessary machine adjustments half a world away.
McNulty said the installation went smoothly last summer.
The coordination of the Tamarack makeover was handled by Rieke Office Interiors.
Office designers on the Rieke team provide everything from floor coverings to furniture to lighting and even soundproofing materials, panel systems and signage.
"We are so pleased that Tamarack has been able to make good use of their prize and that our renovations have made an impact on their business," said Mike Warren, workplace culture consultant for ROI. "We like to see our renovations pay dividends for our clients and at Tamarack, it was quite the transformation."
The presentation technology was provided by VidTech Audio Visual of Lisle. This year's audiovisual package will be provided by Des Plaines Office Equipment.
This year's game plan
Over the next couple months, each issue of the Ledger will address workplace design issues. We will look at contest finalists' offices, the problems they face and offer possible solutions.
Local experts will address ways to improve office lighting, furniture, design and audiovisual issues.
The winner of this year's prize package is expected to be announced May 29.
Experts say that small companies generally update their office environments every 20 to 30 years or when a new generation is taking over the business. Medium to large businesses usually address workplace environment more frequently, Warren said, adding that they generally redecorate their offices every five to seven years.
"People feel better about coming to work in an office that has been updated and is well-designed. It brings energy to a workplace and encourages collaboration, increased productivity and increased profitability, too. And when it comes to the addition of LED lights, the health of employees is improved and the company's bottom line is enhanced by energy savings and reduced maintenance costs," Warren explained.
He is looking forward to this season's contest.
"This year we are especially anxious to teach the winners how to better utilize their collaboration spaces, using them more for cross-functional teams than for executive meetings. Today, companies are making that conference room much more productive, using it for training, cross-collaboration and traditional meetings, too," Warren said.
The new lighting will once again be provided by LED Rite, a lighting manufacturer located in Hampshire, in collaboration with Rieke Office Interiors. Their LED lights generally last 50,000 hours and use only a third of the energy that fluorescent lights use.