Microsoft is a regular in the best companies to work for list, for the perks and benefits it offers its employees. Now, in a rather unconventional move, the company has built tree houses to cut the monotony that the employees feel in the office.
In a recent blog post, the company talked about the growing “outdoor districts” explaining about the three tree houses built for the employees. Out of three, one tree house is a meeting room, according to Microsoft. The only incoming source of light is a round skylight that allows, “just a bubble of blue” and is more of a “Hobbit than HQ,” the company says. All three Microsoft tree houses are in Microsoft’s 500-acre Washington Campus, and is open to all the employees.
Microsoft said that it is blessed with something that most companies in the metropolitan area lack. The company here is talking about its 500 acre campus in the woods with greenspace and wildlife galore. The main objective of the Redmond-based company is to make it more interesting for the employees to work in the company. Microsoft stated that the tree houses are built on a new system of technology-enabled outdoor spaces connected to the buildings around the campus.
In the blog, Microsoft stated that employees were willing to work more outdoors, when asked about their preferences. Project manager Bret Boulter said, “The first thing when you walk into the space is that everyone is really quiet. You stop talking and are just present.” Talking about the experience, Bret stated that it changes the perception of the work and how employees can perform their tasks.
Microsoft has deviated from the common trend, where companies create a kind of proxy environment inside the office so that employees can experience how it would be like to work in the woods. Microsoft tree houses are part of Microsoft’s long-term vision, where the company wanted its employees to be in sync with the environment while also maintaining the reliable connectivity of a traditional office, the company said.
Harvard physician Eva Selhub, co-author of Your Brain on Nature, agrees that nature does have a positive impact on the brain as it turns off the stress response by lowering the cortisol levels, lowers heart rate and blood pressure along with the improved immune response, notes news.com.au.
Microsoft tree houses, which are 4 meters from the ground, are given an authentic look with the help of charred-wood walls, rising ceilings and hand-carved arched double doors. Gates are guarded, but employees can make their way in by swiping their badge. Renowned designer Pete Nelson, who is known for his series “Treehouse Masters” airing on the Discovery Channel in Australia, is the man behind the tree houses.
Microsoft tree houses consist of weatherproof benches, an outdoor gas fireplace, wood canopies and outdoor wi-fi network. Further, employees can also utilize the ramps and, in case they are hungry, there is an indoor cafeteria and a barbecue restaurant as well.
It is not just Microsoft who is working on the crazy office concept. Apple’s “spaceship campus,” which will be open this year, is one of the most talked about buildings for what it offers its employees. Amazon is also not far behind with its proposed biosphere concept for its offices. Facebook is also planning to expand its existing campus in Menlo Park, California to include a “village” of 1500 apartments.