Microsoft has built some tree houses for its employees. One sits in a Pacific Northwest Douglas fir, while another is 12 feet above the ground and features charred-wood walls and a high ceiling complete with a skylight. Microsoft describes it as having a “gingerbread-house” feel, which I’m guessing can only mean good things because it’s Christmas-y and Christmas is warm and fuzzy.
There are three tree houses in total: two are open, and the third is a sheltered lounge space, which is due to be completed later in the year. They feature meeting rooms which employees can use, or they can pop in and work away casually in other parts of the tree houses if they wish. They were created by Pete Nelson, who’s known for his building work on TV show Treehouse Masters. The buildings will last at least 20 years and are made to expand as the trees grow, which is pretty wild.
The tree houses are a part of Microsoft’s “outdoor districts” which are connected to buildings around its Redmond campus. They feature weatherproof benches, hatches that hide electricity sockets, rustproof rocking chairs, a fireplace, wood canopies, and an outdoor Wi-Fi network. There are ramps built in for those who need them. If you get hungry, there’s also an indoor cafeteria that’s extended outside and a barbecue restaurant built into a shipping container.
Microsoft said it had been planning renovations and surveyed employees to see what they cared about the most. Employees said if they were given the opportunity, they would work outside more.
If you’re wondering what kind of effect nature’s workspace is having on Microsoft employees, here’s one passage describing an employee’s experience, according to a blog post:
“On a recent sunny day, an employee perched, legs crossed, on a soft grassy knoll below a treehouse. For several minutes, she sat with her hands on her knees, eyes closed, head tilted toward the sky, breathing deeply. Then she grabbed her laptop and typed furiously. After a spate of work, she set her computer aside, rested her palms on her knees, gazed up, and then closed her eyes again.”
I don’t really know what to make of that, but I’m happy for her. Here’s to nature!