IC HUB

Microsoft reveals its new employee engagement tool

October 23, 2017

Microsoft has revealed its latest employee engagement tool: huge treehouses.

The tech giant believes moving employees closer to nature will help improve “creativity, focus and happiness.”

The result?

See for yourself:

As you can see, the usual stuffy conference rooms and corporate rows of desks have been swapped for wooden beams and pinecones dropping on the newly built deck.

Based at Microsoft’s 500-acre Redmond Campus in Washington, the outdoor meetings spaces are home to several treehouses and an elevated meeting point called the Crow’s Nest.

It has Wi-Fi, of course, as well as plenty of places to plug your tablet or laptop in too.

So how do all these inspire employees?

Microsoft is keen to point towards the work of Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, co-author of Your Brain on Nature.

She wrote: “Nature stimulates reward neurons in your brain. It turns off the stress response, which means you have lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune response.

“Trees and plants secrete aromatic chemicals that impact our cognition, mental state, and even our immunity.”

Microsoft treehouse

With this in mind, Microsoft saw the opportunity to re-imagine how employees go about their daily tasks.

Shanon Bernstine, a business manager who helped plan the spaces, explained to the Microsoft blog: “The first thing [you notice] 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.”

Being closer to nature does bring disadvantages too – as some colleagues have already pointed out.

Microsoft treehouse

Bret Boulter, who headed up the project, said: “A lot of people are like, ‘where’s the AV?’ And I’m like, it’s a treehouse.

“We wanted people to intentionally unplug, because they are sitting in front of screens all day long.

“Being more creative and flexible with our workspace allows us to be more creative and productive in our work and the products we create. It’s like a little getaway.”

“We wanted people to intentionally unplug, because they are sitting in front of screens all day long.

“Being more creative and flexible with our workspace allows us to be more creative and productive in our work and the products we create. It’s like a little getaway.”