Working for some of the world’s largest tech firms means long hours and high pressure, but there are some perks. Googlers get to use the company's slides, games, beanbags, and other cool stuff when they’re taking a break, while Amazon staff will soon be able to enjoy the three giant biodomes at its company HQ. Not wanting to be left out, Microsoft is building tree houses for its employees.
At the Windows maker’s Redmond, Washington campus, Microsoft has built three wooden tree houses in the branches of Pacific Northwest Douglas firs. Builder Pete Nelson, from the TV show “Treehouse Masters,” created the “branch-based meeting spaces,” which the company says are “more Hobbit than HQ, with cinnamon-colored shingles and a gingerbread-house feel.”
Two of the tree houses are now open to all employees, with the third one set to open later this year. They’re more advanced than your usual backyard versions, featuring weatherproof benches containing power supplies for plugging in devices. They're also covered by a large outdoor Wi-Fi network, naturally. But Microsoft notes that it decided not to include certain tech, such as AV systems and climate control.
Microsoft said its workers would benefit from these workspaces, thanks to the “powerful impact of nature on creativity, focus, and happiness.” An outdoor working environment is also said to help relieve stress.
A plan was put in motion to create the structures following an internal company survey that asked what employees cared about most. “People said, given the opportunity, they would work more outside,” said Bret Boulter, who works in Real Estate & Facilities on Microsoft’s Redmond campus and who headed up the project.
Boulter said the buildings are designed to flex and expand as the trees grow, giving them a lifespan of at least 20 years. Check out the video below for a closer look.