Unless you work at Google or Pixar, your office probably isn’t lined with music speakers and flat-screen TVs. You probably don’t have phone and computer systems that allow you to work wherever you want, while doing whatever you want. And it’s not likely that you have an on-site gym with your own locker, café with a Wii, lactation room, yoga room, and 100 seat theater. Well Dawson Resources does, and they aren’t a huge megacorporation – they just really care about their employees and making their office the best possible place to work.
“There’s a fine line between ‘incredibly smart marketing’ and ‘guys who charge too much,’ ” co-CEO David DeCapua says of the impression his new office gives off. “We believe this is smart marketing.”
When you consider that Dawson Resources blazed the video résumé trail with TalentRooster, it’s not surprising that they’re also ahead of the changing-workplace curve with their expanded operation in Columbus, OH. Dawson is a homegrown, mostly clerical, professional, and call center staffing firm that started back in 1946 as a service to help WWII soldiers find work. TalentRooster, meanwhile, launched in 2010 as a complimentary service that creates video interviews for every candidate a firm presents to clients.
“Over 80% of first interviews are a failure – they never advance,” says DeCapua, who’s also the founder of TalentRooster. “A candidate comes in for an interview, you shake hands, exchange pleasantries, and you already know they’re not a fit. If you view a candidate video before meeting, you can cut the failure rate in half and save clients and candidates a lot of time.”
At first, TalentRooster operated exclusively with Dawson, but DeCapua says it was so “wildly successful that we rolled it out to other forward-thinking firms.” They now work with about 60 staffing locations in the U.S., and multiple corporations. It’s partly because of that success that has allowed them to create this epic new space.
“The staffing business has gone through the roof, and TalentRooster is a huge reason. It’s been a big game-changer. It’s just really changed our fortunes,” David said.
One look at their new space and I instantly felt like I was inside of an IKEA catalogue. The exposed brick. The furniture. The light fixtures. The bright colors. Lots of natural light. Inspiring quotes and mission-like statements. Sleek, clean, practical, open, and it even has a history wall.
“It’s so easy to look like a stupid cheap typical naugahyde staffing company, but we’re not,” David said of the impression he’s hoping to exude with this design. “We’re a firm saying we’re here and we’re really good at what we do. Our processes are really buttoned-up and high-end.”
Starting with the employee kitchen, Dawson has created an all-out café. There’s a TV on, music playing, video games, and a pool table. “It used to be that when the lunch hour came, everyone leaves; but now people want to stay,” DeCapua says. “It’s an unintended bonus that’s totally worth it.”
Another bonus of the café is that, when they’re looking to entertain clients, normally they’d take them out to lunches and spend a fortune. Now they cater into their space, which still has the high-end feel, but creates a better atmosphere and audience.
Like many of the areas in the building, the café is a space for the employees to do as they wish. This continues in the cubicle zone, an open area with half-walls and roughly 75 employees free to enjoy TV and music as they please. The same goes for the gym and yoga room, in which everyone has a locker with a name plate and is free to take advantage of whenever they want (including while working). They expect the regular fitness classes (some after hours, some around lunch hour) to be a big hit.
“We have voice over IP phones with earpieces, so no one’s trapped to a desk,” DeCapua said, “and the whole building is wi-fi so you can work in the café or any of the other places to ‘hide,’ as we say.”
The area that enraptured my attention was the in-house theater. Complete with red velvet seats and a popcorn machine, the theater can hold up to 100 people and has multiple uses. So far they’ve held in-house training there, quarterly meetings, a company awards ceremony, and DeCapua even invited his kids and their friends over last weekend to watch the Super Bowl. The plan is to also host HR events in the space, and open it up to the community as a free usable space. Any donations a local group gives to them for using the space will be matched by Dawson and donated to one of many local charities and endeavors they support.
“The work space is changing and we went the non-traditional route,” DeCapua said. “We’re seeing that people actually want to be here. They’re not rushing out the door at 5 o’clock. I think we knocked it out of the park.”
DeCapua said Dawson bought their 50,000 square-foot building at the insanely reasonable price of $27 a foot, and because they were efficient and took advantage of incentives, after all these additions the project totaled about $80 a foot.
“It’s awesome,” DeCapua says. “Hardly anyone would do this, but if they did their employees would just love it.”