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Microsoft treehouse
Microsoft’s new treehouse workspaces in Redmond, Wash. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft employees looking to connect with nature can bring their laptops with them when they visit a new spot on the software giant’s Redmond, Wash., campus.

Perhaps with an eye toward the Spheres in downtown Seattle, Microsoft has beaten Amazon to the trees and built a space that’s actually outdoors, designed to help its workers clear their heads and focus away from the normal work environment.

Constructed this summer by builder Pete Nelson of the TV show “Treehouse Masters,” the structures — two enclosed treehouses and an elevated roost called the Crow’s Nest — are situated between buildings 30-32. It’s all more “Hobbit than HQ,” says a story on the company’s website.

Microsoft treehouse
Microsoft employees can reserve the meeting spaces just like any space on campus. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft surveyed employees about what they were most looking for in a work environment, and people said given the opportunity, they would like to work outside more.

Because recruiting is such a big deal in the Seattle region’s hyper-competitive tech environment, the story references Amazon without calling out the e-commerce giant by name. The Spheres are set to open early next year to employees and will feature hundreds of plants in a temperature- and humidity-controlled setting.

While some companies have moved toward the trend of creating green indoor spaces that function as proxies for the outdoors, Microsoft has something unique that most companies located within large metropolitan areas don’t have: a 500-acre campus nestled in the woods, with greenspace and wildlife galore.

“A lot of people are like, ‘where’s the AV?’ And I’m like, it’s a treehouse,” said Bret Boulter, who works in Real Estate & Facilities on the Redmond campus and headed up the project. “We wanted people to intentionally unplug, because they are sitting in front of screens all day long.”

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