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Today’s blog features our Top Prize Winner of the 2015 Workspace Revolution Contest, Rick Sichelski of Southwest Community Services in Tinley Park, IL. Southwest Community Services is a non-profit, human services agency that provides services that empower individuals with diverse disabilities to maximize their development and independence. As part of the contest entry, we asked Rick to answer some questions for us.

What inspired you?

I was inspired after going to visit many other day programs and your location. The idea of having a fun, colorful and interactive work place has always been something I enjoyed when teaching. Now in the social service field things are more simple and plain colored. I noticed that the places that took the dare to make their locations more fun, colorful and friendly tend to have happier clients and staff.

What was done?

I took it upon myself to start in my office and bring in fun paintings, decoration and give it some character. This involved me going and buying items with my own money or taking things from around my house and bringing them in. Once I did my office some other staff began to follow my lead. The other staff and individuals love seeing the personal and fun touches we have made. No policies had to be changed, but it made people work on their creative side to make it their own. Once a few offices got done I decided I was going to push the boundaries a little and start making minor changes to the building. I started with simple wall decals you can purchase and some minor decorations mainly in lunchroom and common areas.

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Where did you find the ingredients for the change?

All of the items purchased came from craft stores, Target, my own personal stuff, dollar stores and some thrift store stuff. Being a non-profit it is hard to always find money to buy things; using the imagination is key.

What are the effects?

The very minor touches that have taken place throughout the building have made our location more inviting and friendly and the individuals we serve like the new look. My office that was redone seems to be the place to host small meetings in instead of the board room that is very traditional. Adding the touches and inspiring people to use their imagination and individual touches has sparked a new sense of purpose and belonging in the workplace. I could only wish to continue this trend and with your help I think I can!

We agree and plan on sitting down with Rick to discuss what’s next and how best we can put the $250 in prize money in play at his office. We will keep you updated on our progress. But, in the interim, if you have any ideas for Rick, please share!