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January 2018
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TD Magazine

Wi-Fi in the Woods

If you search the Internet, you'll probably find plenty of articles that encourage you to take your work outdoors. "Type the draft of your newsletter while splayed out on the beach," they say. "Ask for that status update on a midday stroll through the park." What do you say in response? Probably something along the lines of, "My laptop doesn't like dirt or sand."

At Microsoft, though, that excuse doesn't work anymore.

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As reported on the company's blog, the software giant has built three tree houses that also serve as meeting spaces on its campus in the Pacific-Northwest region of the United States. Equipped with wireless Internet and charging stations for laptops and tablets, they're designed to combine the benefits of spending time outside with the office amenities of a modern tech company.

Two of the tree houses have mostly open availability, and serve as places where Microsoft hopes its employees can casually interact or escape from their desks. However, the structures do include a reserved meeting space, the "Cedar Room," and an elevated roost called the "Crow's Nest," which is first-come, first-serve.

Of course, while these tree houses might sound like an amazing idea for Microsoft employees, people at other companies might think of building similar spaces as unrealistic. Not every company is worth billions of dollars, after all. However, leaders at other organizations could consider some lower-cost alternatives. If your company has a courtyard or small campus, an extension cord attached to a power block and a Wi-Fi hotspot might be a good start.

About the Author
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.
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