In the latest edition of crazy perks tech companies give their employees, Microsoft is building tree houses for its employees.
One tree house, nestled in the bows of a Pacific Northwest Douglas Fir on the company's Redmond, Washington, campus, serves a meeting room. It features a round skylight that lets in "just a bubble of blue" and is more "Hobbit than HQ" according to a post on a Microsoft Blog.
There are three tree houses in total — two that already open and one, a sheltered lounge space, that will open later this year. Open to all employees, they were built by Pete Nelson of the TV show "Treehouse Masters" who Microsoft said began the project by "connecting with the trees for hours."
The structures are part of a new system of outdoor work spaces on Microsoft's 500-acre Washington campus. The spaces are all Wi-Fi enabled and have benches with electricity plugs.
But the company is also bringing the outdoor theme to more traditional buildings and structures. It's adding an outdoor area on to its indoor cafeteria, for example. The new al fresco space will have rocking chairs and an awning that allow the the Microsoft logo to shine through onto the grass below on sunny days.
The new emphasis on outdoor living isn't all about fun and games. As Microsoft noted in its blog, exposure to the outdoors can relieve stress and stimulate creativity. And employees were pushing for the change.
"People said, given the opportunity, they would work more outside," said Bret Boulter, who works in Microsoft's real estate and facilities division and led the project.