Workplace Makeover winner enjoying new conference room

Giving a neglected conference room a new look is overwhelming, costly and often times daunting.

That's why the Daily Herald Business Ledger teamed up with sponsors to offer a free conference room update and renovation to a small business through its second Workplace Makeover Contest.

Batir Architecture Ltd. of St. Charles is this year's winner, earning a conference room makeover, valued at $12,000. About 60 businesses entered in the contest. Rieke Office Interiors and Des Plaines Office Equipment of Elk Grove Village provided the prizes. Batir, owned by Paula Price, a six-employee firm that received a design consultation with Rieke Office Interiors, an Elgin company that then provided a conference table, eight Granny Smith apple green conference chairs, green and blue carpet tiles and ceiling LED troffers throughout the office.

Batir also received a technology package that includes a state-of-the-art Sharp 60-inch high definition interactive monitor, PTZ HD teleconference camera with noise canceling, a wireless computer for Power Point and installation and training from Des Plaines Office Equipment. A fresh coat of paint was also applied. Batir purchased additional ergonomic chairs for other areas of the office.

Education was part of the package as well.

"This year we were 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

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traditional meetings, too," said Mike Warren, workplace culture consultant for Rieke Office Interiors.

"Batir needed to have the look of their conference room reflect the talent level of their firm. If anyone's office needs to look good, it is an architecture firm," Warren said. "So we updated the look. It was fun to see the transformation because it truly affected everyone in the company."

Technology plays a big role. "If you are holding a meeting or a training session, you want your people to get the most out of it. Otherwise, you are just wasting time," said Victor Miceli, co-owner of Des Plaines Office Equipment.

"Now they (staff) can bring up their drawings on a large 60-inch computer screen instead of having to pay to print them on large paper and they can now use their fingers to make changes right on the file. They can even make notes on the drawing and email all of it to the client at the end of the presentation. They can print it out, as well."

The transformation at Batir Architecture has been profound, employees say. "It is really so much better," said Kristin Madden, a designer and project manager for the past 10 years and the person who entered the contest.

"We do commercial tenant design work and design data centers for other companies. So, it was always ironic how behind-the-times the technology was in our own conference room," she said. "We finally have a modern conference room, befitting an architecture firm. When we make a presentation to a client, we are doing it on a SMART Board instead of having to print out paper showing our proposals," she said.

"We are even able to do 'lunch and learn' presentations with our sister firm in Texas. It makes communication with them so much easier," she said.

"This renovation has really inspired all of us. It is so much more fun to come to work and thanks to the new LED lights, the whole open part of the office is so much brighter," Madden continued.

The updates inspired them to print out many of their designs and mount them on black foam core to hang around the office.

"We are so grateful to everyone who played a part in giving us this wonderful conference room upgrade," Madden said. "We love the modern, technical look."

  Batir Architecture won the Daily Herald Business Ledger workplace makeover contest and received a new conference room. Brian Hill/
  Mike Shimp with Des Plaines Office Equipment explains the new technology at Batir Architecture. Brian Hill/
What the conference room at Batir Architecture in St. Charles looked like before the workplace makeover contest. Courtesy of Batir Architecture
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