Microsoft employees find new working spaces inside the trees

Arif Bacchus

When working for a tech giant like Microsoft, conference rooms, cubicles and the monotonous routine of taking elevators to an office can get especially boring. Well, being the innovators they are, Microsoft recently put into use treehouses for their employees to “benefit from the powerful impact of nature on creativity, focus, and happiness.”

The treehouses are part of Microsoft’s efforts to create a system of technology-enabled “outdoor districts” connected to the regular buildings around the main Redmond campus. Built to “empower employees to work in new ways,” two of the treehouses are open and accessible to all Microsoft employees. There is also a third sheltered longe space which is scheduled to open later this year.

Designed and created by Pete Nelson from the Animal Planet show “Treehouse Masters,” one of the treehouses sits inside a Pacific Northwest Douglas fir. Another one of the treehouses is twelve feet off the ground and features charred-wood walls and a soaring ceiling with a round skylight. All the treehouses feature WiFi and other amenities such as power and charging ports for PCs. Microsoft describes other features of these outdoor treehouses:

The evolution of outdoor meeting space emphasizes this long-ago envisioned connection to the environment while increasing opportunities for workers to collaborate—all while maintaining the reliable connectivity of a traditional office. A broad 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.

Citing some scientific studies, The Redmond giant believes that these outdoor working spaces will help employees “seamlessly and better interact with one another.” Microsoft’s is saying that employees have really enjoyed the outdoor spaces. In fact, the new tree offices are so enticing that even Xbox’s Major Nelson can’t resist the call of nature. Pretty cool, to say the least.