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Microsoft IT

Microsoft Employees Can Now Work In Treehouses (cnbc.com) 95

Microsoft's campus now features three outdoor treehouses for its employees. An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: More than 12 feet off the ground, the treehouses feature charred-wood walls, skylights, at least one gas fireplace, Wi-Fi and hidden electrical outlets. Employees can even grab a bite at an outdoor extension of the indoor cafeteria. The "more Hobbit than HQ" treehouses are designed by Pete Nelson of the TV show "Treehouse Masters" and are part of Microsoft's growing "outdoor districts..." The company touts the professional benefits of working in nature -- greater creativity, focus and happiness -- but honestly, the treehouses are just plain cool.
Microsoft touts a Harvard physician who believes 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." There's a short video on the "Working at Microsoft" channel on YouTube, but I'm curious what Slashdot readers think about working outdoors. Or, in a tree...
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Microsoft Employees Can Now Work In Treehouses

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Working in trees will not help that.

  • How soon before someone gets fired for mentioning "getting wood"? Or just plain ol' hijinks in the back of the "wood shed"?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      I expect hijinks more than puns or even sexual harassment. I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of such harassment remains essentially unchanged from what it is now, but the introduction of the new setting may make for employees that are already inclined to get frisky with each other happy to try a new venue for their passions besides the supply closet etc.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Not to mention the fact that putting all those poor H1B workers into trees is bound to be considered racist by somebody.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I find this trend of treating workers in technology like babies insulting and wasteful. I am not interested in beer in the workplace, I am not interested in replacing staircases with slides, or with play spaces. I'd much rather have a quiet, private office where I can work without getting bothered constantly by people who don't understand what I'm doing. And competent coworkers, while I'm dreaming.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      While I can appreciate an employer that attempts to provide means for employees to get meaningful breaks if their shifts are going to be long and arduous, I more appreciate employers that don't compel their employees to work far over a standard 40 hour workweek.

      Admittedly my perspectives on labor tend to fall toward the employee-protection side, but unless one is involved in the corporate-level decisions of a company I don't think that one should be salaried-exempt. As far as I'm concerned, end-workers tha

      • by grumling ( 94709 )

        Summary: Salary is for suckers.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          Yes, but with the caveat that exceedingly few high-paying jobs are hourly, so unless you're a master machinist prototyping aerospace parts on a mill and lathe you'll probably have to have a salary job in order to make a lot of money.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ErichTheRed ( 39327 )

      I agree...Our medium IT services and software provider just got the Google open office religion. So far our satellite office has been spared, but other offices around the world are being transformed into a hideous white, orange, blue and green preschool workspace. The ostensible goal is to attract Millenials, but IMO it alienates people who don't want to be treated like preschoolers.

      For those who weren't paying attention back then (or born, ye gods..) the late 90s had a very similar ramp up during the first

    • I get where you are coming from, and agree for the most part, but to me this is quite different. I've always thought it would be nice to have a patio/balcony at different places I've worked at where I could go outside and work for a bit. Just for a break from the office. And now with laptops and wireless networks this is even easier to manage. Unfortunately you can't always add those to existing buildings, depending on the layout. So Microsoft has found a nice, creative way to add some outdoor work spa

    • I agree. I was happiest/most productive when locked in a dark basement (for JPL). Zero distractions, no internet. What's a foseball? Never mind, I really don't care.
  • Wonderful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thereitis ( 2355426 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @12:49PM (#55368911) Journal
    I'd absolutely love to work outside in a tree house (weather and insects permitting). I'd also like to try working from a house boat. While the health benefits of nature aren't exactly a "new" discovery, I'm happy to see Microsoft recognizing it by giving their employees this opportunity. I hope this experiment works out well.
  • Part of me thinks this is gimmicky and stupid.

    The rest of me wants to work in one, or look into converting my home office into a tree house, complete with a rope ladder and a secret password.

    • Part of me thinks this is gimmicky and stupid.

      The rest of me wants to work in one, or look into converting my home office into a tree house, complete with a rope ladder and a secret password.

      And a big "No Homers" sign on the front.

    • where your office is on a hallway with tiled walls and linoleum floors, and where the sounds of slamming doors from classrooms, offices occupied by multiple grad students and a conference room with a particularly balky door SLAM, SLAM, SLAM seep over the transom through the false ceiling for the A/C retrofit.

      Classroom instructors insist on closing their doors -- actually, I would prefer to hear the ah-ums of the disfluent instructor teaching multiple sections of a required technical writing course or the

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Who would not want to work for an employer who wants to psychologically manipulate you to be more productive and less demanding, yep, you betcha. A tree might be pretty thick to be considered the thin end of a wooden wedge but where will the manipulation stop. So they are looking at connecting the brain direct, well, I know M$ and I fully understand what you can do to people with direct brain stimulation and well, I would be suspect about anything they do. What more productive people, stop manipulating them

  • Someone make a sign.

  • Good. That means the stream of willing morons working for MS may be drying up. In actual reality MS has never been cool, but there are far too many people that mistake having a lot of money as a really positive quality.

  • ... but rather walking around on a sight-seeing tour through the "tree house".

    Once they actually work, they will need to look at a screen, where they would see the same awful MicroSoft crap-ware as in so many conventional offices.

    I'd prefer working in a soul-less cube of concrete, if in return on my screen there was a decent operating system.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @01:26PM (#55369103)

    Google, Microsoft and others are famously "all-inclusive" workplaces designed to continue the college campus atmosphere. The question is whether treehouse work spaces are just a by-product of the tech bubble and trying to attract people with interesting personalities, or whether Millenials really prefer working in these conditions.

    Microsoft is famous for giving its developers very nice office space and very little reason to leave campus. If I were a 20-something computer science grad, this might have some appeal to me. I probably wouldn't have much of a life outside of work, my apartment would be small and lack all the amenities of "campus life," etc. Problem is, once those 20-somethings reach their 30s or so, a fraction of them are going to have families and lives outside of work.

    The only problem is what to do with the grown-ups who don't want to work 100 hour weeks anymore. If Microsoft is simply saying they're not welcome, then they will run into maturity issues down the line once every large MS-focused corporate workload is running in Azure. Maybe they're banking on keeping the fraction of 30+ workers who will continue working crazy hours. When you think about it it makes sense...app development and infrastructure is so abstracted now that all of he truly geeky CS people are going to gravitate towards the OS and cloud providers to keep all the real hardware and software living under all those layers and wrappers going. Everyone else is going to be a "developer" gluing JavaScript libraries together.

    • The only problem is what to do with the grown-ups who don't want to work 100 hour weeks anymore.

      Do you have any evidence that people at Microsoft do work 100-hour weeks? I see this assumption on slashdot a lot, often applied to my employer (Google) where I know it isn't true. I suspect that it's also not true at Microsoft (hmm, I know a couple of people who used to be at MS; I'll ask them next time we chat).

    • Google, Microsoft and others are famously "all-inclusive" workplaces designed to continue the college campus atmosphere.

      Ever since I was on campus (in undergrad) I've steered clear of companies who touted "the campus atmosphere" - because "it's like a campus" means you never leave. I remember ATI recruiting when I was in 4th year. "You know, it's like a campus, we have restaurants, we have a gym, we even have like bedrooms with comfy beds where you can rest..." - ah, wait a second, you want me to sleep there? Goodbye. (ATI, now AMD, no longer has the building with the gym, or so I hear. They had to sell it.)

    • As a 20-something engineering grad, I was far more interested in the project that I was working on (a Mars lander for example), than where I was working. Actually, I didn't care in the slightest what the conditions were, even the time the building flooded and everyone kept working until the water shorted out the network and they went everyone home. Everyone just joked about it for a minute and continued to work until that time. IIRC, they had to send boats around the some of the offices because the water o
    • millennials? fuck them, I want to work in a treehouse.
  • (No, didn't RTFA)
    Google says there's 30k-40k employees at MS' Redmond HQ - how many of them gets to even see this thing?

  • Aren't the relaxing effects of the tree house completely nullified by using a stressful OS such as Windows?!

  • The treehouse my son and his friends built 15 years ago turned into a twisted mass of splintered wood. (We took it down last year as requested by our insurance co.)
  • Memo to: All HQ employees
    From: tcook@apple.com
    Subject: Food and Drink Policy

    Just reminding everyone that there's no food or drink permitted outside the cafeteria and designated break areas. In the past week we've had over 50 coffee spills on the (Apple white) carpet. Also remember that fingerprints detract from the beautiful views from our custom windows and it is very time consuming for the cleaning staff to remove them. And remember to use the shoe covers provided at all entrances during inclement weather

  • if you can even get a job at Microsoft. These days it seems you have to live in India or be an H1-B visa to get anywhere ....
  • At Google, for awhile I was very near a common area we called "the wine cave", because one section was decorated with the ends of wine barrels. Initially, it was a nice place to go chill out for a bit in the middle of the day. Over time, though, as employee density kept being ratcheted up, it became a campground for visitors and for locals who were trying to get some time away from their neighbors. So eventually it became overcrowded during the bulk of the workday, completely negating any value it previo

  • build a fun environment. I guess they're stealing Google tactics now too. If people realized that most modern roller coaster parks ran Windows, they'd be a whole lot more scared.
  • After all, you would have to subhuman to want to work for MS.
  • wood is made out of trees, think about it, ill give you all the time you need

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.