Because free beverages, on-site restaurants and unlimited foosball isn’t enough to get the average tech worker through their day, Microsoft has unveiled a luxury tree house built for its employees who need to get work done, but also be inspired by the wilderness and gentle breezes of nature.
The roomy tree house —complete with wifi and electrical outlets — is located among the 500 acres of forest that surrounds Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington (about a half hour east of Seattle). And while reading a description of the “outdoor meeting spaces” on the company’s blog, one gets the sense they’re in the presence of Henry David Thoreau.
To get to Microsoft’s most unexpected new meeting space, embark on a leisurely outdoor stroll up a planked, accessible switchback ramp. At the top, a secure wooden gate swings open to reveal a deck suspended by timber beams and cables. A minty pine perfume infuses the air. Two angled cedar awnings jut out from tree trunks, protecting employees from the elements.
Whomever wrote this post is definitely angling for a book deal.
Aloft, the usual corporate sounds of clicking doors, conference calls, and heels on concrete melt away. A fall wind sweeps through emerald branches. Every once in a while, a pinecone drops to the deck with a soft thud. A sudden ruckus breaks the gentle morning hush: a squirrel scrambling for breakfast charges across the arms of nearby hemlock and western red cedar.
It gets better. According to the blog, the treehouse is one of three new branch-based meeting spaces created by Pete Nelson of “Treehouse Masters” on Animal Planet. He reportedly kicked off the project by spending his first day on the site “connecting with the trees” for hours, according to Microsoft’s Bret Boulter, who headed up the project. He says the treehouse was built to “flex and expand as the trees grow” with an expected lifespan of at least 20 years.
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The largest part of the three-pronged treehouse sits 12-feet off the ground and features “charred-wood walls and a soaring ceiling with a round skylight that lets in just a bubble of blue. It’s more Hobbit than HQ, with cinnamon-colored shingles and a gingerbread-house feel.” An elevated roost called the Crow’s Nest and a third sheltered lounge space (opening later this year) round out the trifecta.
And while this is all incredibly cool, Microsoft had an actual beneficial reason for building its adult tree house: scientific evidence shows working outdoors improves creativity, focus, and happiness. All that’s missing are the hot dogs and marshmallows.