Tyrannosaurus Rex, pterodactyl, and brontosaurus — dinosaurs all. But what's a trumpasaurus? In fact, he's no dinosaur at all, but a friendly monster — a 10-foot-high, bright-green-and-purple mascot, affectionately dubbed "Trump" — who greets you as you step off the fifth-floor elevator at the new 75,000-square-foot headquarters of the Monster Board, a job-search Web site. Founded in April 1994 by Jeffrey Taylor, 38, the Monster Board became part of the interactive division of TMP Worldwide in 1995. Today the company, based in Maynard, Massachusetts, boasts that it is the most successful career center on the Internet. Serving both job seekers and recruiters, the site receives more than 2.5 million visits per month, contains more than 50,000 job postings from 40,000 companies, and posts nearly 500,000 résumés.
This explosive growth has propelled the Monster Board from a baby beast into a raptor-like company worthy of an outrageously large mascot. Last summer, the company moved to its new home in Maynard, 30 miles west of Boston. The new digs, located in a remodeled brick textile mill that dates back to the 1800s, resemble an oversize loft: The space is 660 feet long by 110 feet wide, and it features huge windows that run the length of the building on both sides. According to Taylor, the space not only suits the company's new size — allowing the Monster Board to house all of its employees on one floor — it also fits the company's work style. "You can see the movement of people here," says Taylor. "You meet more employees than you would in a traditional space. Plus, we wanted a structure that would promote 'nonstructure,' because many of our employees work in nontraditional ways."
Working with architect Patricia Algiers, of Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater Architects, Taylor created a brightly colored space that brings the 19th-century mill into the 20th century, providing an ideal environment for the 21st-century work of using the Web to match talent with opportunity.
The Call Center Gets a New Number
Ask anyone who works the phones for a living, and you'll hear the same complaint: Call centers are the modern equivalent of a medieval torture chamber. Not so at the Monster Board, where the 80 members of its telesales department work in a space designed with comfort and ergonomics in mind. Of course, it wasn't always that way. Before the Monster Board moved into the mill, most of its reps worked in one of two trailers that the company had rented to accommodate its phenomenal growth. The makeshift space had no bathrooms and no room to spare. When the time came to equip the new center, Jocelyn Talbot, 54, vice president of telesales, knew exactly what her group needed. "We wanted to create a semblance of quiet, private space for employees," she says, "and still have a workable, open environment."
The solution: a design that arranges spacious workstations into staggered rows that are separated by wide corridors. This zigzag pattern affords employees visual privacy. Yet when the reps have a question, they can roll their chair back a foot or two and ask a neighbor for help. Does this kind of design really make a difference? Absolutely, argues Talbot: "If you shove people into rat mazes, then you're going to get rat-sized mentalities."
You Are Your Space
According to Taylor, the monster board's identity goes far beyond connecting job seekers with job providers. "We're also about putting a little levity into the job seeker's experience," he says. "So it's important to have a little levity in our headquarters too." That's where the bright colors and the huge monsters, the cafe settings and the game-room facilities all come into play: They help create the energy and the fun that define the Monster Board culture.
And because the Monster Board bases its business on recruiting, its office space must speak well of the company's efforts to recruit — and retain — talented people. One way to attract and keep such people is to create a space that makes them want to come to work in the morning. "Employees are so excited about our workspace, they bring their families and friends in to see it," Taylor says. "We have visitors all the time. And there's been more than one case when someone who had just come in to visit said, 'Wow! I love this place. How can I get a job here?' "
Lisa Chadderdon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Fast Company staff writer. To learn more about the Monster Board, visit the Web (www.monster.com).
A version of this article appeared in the January 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.