All of the treehouses, three in total, were put together by Pete Nelson of the TV show Treehouse Masters. Two treehouses are currently open and one, which is a sheltered lounge space, is set to open later this year. All are built on on Microsoft’s 500-acre Washington campus and, best of all, they are open to all employees. It’s all part of a new system of technology-enabled outdoor spaces connected to the buildings around the campus. This also allows employees to work in new and creative ways.
— Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) October 13, 2017
“People said, given the opportunity, they would work more outside,” said Bret Boulter, who was leading the project and works in Microsoft’s real estate and facilities division. “The first thing when you walk into the space is that everyone is really quiet. You stop talking and are just present. It’s fascinating. People absorb the environment, and it changes the perception of their work and how they can do it.”
This is all based on research that suggests more exposure to outdoor-settings increases one’s work productivity, focus and creativity. So there are indeed some professional benefits to working in nature. A summary of some of these studies can be found on a page from the University of Washington.
The treehouses are more than 12 feet off the ground, and feature amenities like skylights, charred-wood walls, fireplace, at least one gas fireplace, wooden canopies, an outdoor network for Wi-Fi, as well as some hidden electrical outlets. Microsoft employees are even able to get something to eat at an outdoor extension of the indoor cafeteria. The buildings are built to last for at least 20 years, and are made to expand as the trees continue to grow.
Some companies have made the decision to create more green indoor spaces that function much like outdoor spaces. The treehouse spaces that Microsoft put together are truly unique. This is just one more example of Microsoft continuing to push the envelope forward.