To help its employees gain creativity, focus and happiness, Microsoft has built treehouse workspaces with embedded tech at its Redmond campus that will serve as meeting spaces and a more casual work environment. Designed by renowned builder Pete Nelson, the treehouse is one of the three new branch-based meeting spaces and is part of a larger new system of technology-enabled outdoor districts connected to buildings around campus empowering employees to work in new ways.
During its construction in the summer, the outdoor meeting spaces, which include two enclosed treehouses and one elevated roost called the ‘Crow’s Nest’, created a wave of curiosity. “While some companies have moved toward the trend of creating green indoor spaces that function as proxies for the outdoors, Microsoft has something unique that most companies located within large metropolitan areas don’t have: a 500-acre campus nestled in the woods, with greenspace and wildlife galore,” a company blog said.
The outdoor meeting space emphasises Microsoft’s long-ago envisioned connection to the environment while increasing opportunities for workers to collaborate-all while maintaining the reliable connectivity of a traditional office. Twelve feet off the ground, the treehouse features charred-wood walls and a soaring ceiling with a round skylight with cinnamon-coloured shingles and a gingerbread-house feel. There is no AV system or calibrated climate control.
An outdoor Wi-Fi network allows employees to range; every bench is weatherproof and contains a hatch that reveals electricity sources. The indoor cafeteria is extended outside, with a barbecue restaurant built into a shipping container. Tactile surfaces help people who are blind or have low vision navigate.
The space has rust-proof rocking chairs, an outdoor gas fireplace that brings the warmth of a ski lodge and attracts an after-work crowd and a weatherproof awning that, when the sun shines, stencils the Microsoft logo onto the manicured lawn. Two of the three treehouses, which are accessible to all employees, are open. The third, a sheltered lounge space, will be ready later this year.