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Microsoft may be planning to overhaul its Redmond, Washington headquarters

Microsoft has been changing the way it does business a lot since Satya Nadella became its CEO in early 2014. A new report claims the company may extend that theme of change to its physical headquarters campus in Redmond, Washington, in a massive overhaul of its work spaces.

According to Bloomberg:

"The software giant has hired architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP as part of the effort at its Redmond, Washington, offices, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans aren't public. Skidmore Owings designed Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, and is helping Microsoft with a makeover of its much smaller campus in Mountain View, California. Microsoft hasn't yet decided whether to move forward with the Redmond overhaul, said one of the people familiar with the matter."

If the plan is indeed approved, the current private offices on Microsoft's campus would be changed to more open-plan work spaces. The idea is that the change will force more collaboration between employees. It could also make it easier to hire younger employees:

"A broader makeover would include new construction and redevelopment of existing buildings, according to the people with knowledge of the matter. It could add amenities such as restaurants, retail spaces and public artwork, in addition to apartments to house visiting employees and interns, they said."

If approved, the cost of the revamp could run into the billions of dollars.

Source: Bloomberg

113 Comments
  • Very nice, competitive also since Apple is currently building a new HQ and Google has plans to completely redesign there's. Sounds fantastic!
  • Does Google still have plans? I saw that they had something, but California gave most of the land to LinkedIn, so I thought those plans had to be put on hold for a while.
  • Oh really? Nevermind then.
  • All, I read was "MS may be planning to overhaul it's 950 line of devices"""
  • You need glasses
  • Lol... Maybe so.
  • why would they?
  • You need glasses.........
  • @rodneyej:
    Oh, you poor credulous fellow...
  • Well, you're very welcome, fine sir!!
  • Or Microsoft releases 2015 fall flagship phone to all carriers. Design and feature set surpass Apple and Samsung. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So finally we see what the 10,000s of lay-offs had been good for...
  • That's what they did at a corporation I formerly worked for, shortly before they shut down. Open workspaces are distracting and stressful.
  • Are you implying that Microsoft is just about to close up shop?
  • I didn't get that when reading OPs comment. Quit reaching for something that isn't there.
  • I did tbh. Whilst I know they aren't but his comment seemed to indicate just that. I.e. My company changed and went our of business.
  • Was your company as lager s or as Rich as MS???
  • We knew we were on a sinking ship, having gone through massive layoffs and restructuring including LEAN and Kaizen training. Then management decided to arbitrarily make the decsion to place teams into bullpens - it sure didn't help morale at all.
  • My company has done this at many of the facilities across the globe. THe reception of the open layout has been mostly positive. Yes, it can get noisy due to conversations, but it encourages collaboration and communication. The open enviroment is also more welcoming than a maze of cubicles.
  • There are studies indicates that the open space workspace is more distractive, and less productive. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/30/google-got-i...  
  • I totally believe that.  Used to work in an open office like that and it was so easy to chat with your neighbours.  Got most of my work done working from home.
  • I've experienced working in cubicle, partially-open, and open environments. Personally, I found the open environments to be the best for productivity and creativity, as I interacted with my colleagues more frequently than when I was in a cubicle. In particular it's easy to just bounce ideas off of each other. When you're in a cubicle, it's really easy to lose track of the world around you. That being said, I can definitely see how it would be distracting, as there's a lot of noise from conversations. Easiest way around this is to just listen to music, or use noise cancelling headphones. Yea, it may not be the most ideal, but it gets the job done. Additionally, there are people that perhaps socialize too much, and need to have a little better self control in order to ensure their work is completed in a timely fashion.
  • Open environments are great if you are doing Agile development. They encourage more interaction and for pair programming are pretty much a must. The giant cube farms, like the one I saw at Lockheed, are just depressing. For the noise, invest in a white noise generator. It works great for knocking down the noise of distant conversations.
  • Exactly! I think one of the biggest positive impacts from an open environment is the morale-boost; you feel like you're part of a team and can openly communicate with everyone else.
  • I have times where three conversations are occurring at the same time.  Open office setups reduce productivity (I am in a team room environment,  and have to work from home to get real programming done).  I really loved the office setups at the Microsoft campus.  It would be very sad if they went the way of the hype.   Offices for developers are awesome... it would be sad to lose one more place that provided decent support for software developers.
  • I would say it depends on the company, what they are doing and the quality of their employees.  It's bad in environments where you have people on the phone primarily interacting with outside customers/vendors.  However, for more creative positions where you have a handful of people working together it's great.  I've seen it used far too often in the former situation.  What's worse is when they stick a call based department next to a creative based department.  Companies really seem to love doing that. Teams need level of openness within themselves and a level of privacy from others.
  • A few times in my career I've been involved in "project rooms".  They get setup for big projects with short timeframes.  They stick all the developers, designers and managers all in one room. Everyone is working on a common goal and there are no meetings.  If you need a little personal time for calls and stuff you can just use your office space for a bit. I've found this to be a tremendous productivity boost.
  • Couldn't agree more. I've lucked out and haven't had marketing/sales teams near the development teams I've been on. However, when I was working in a cubicle, I worked right next to a rather loud customer-focused team, where they were on the phone all the time. Despite having a cubicle, you pretty much had to wear noise-cancelling headphones if you wanted to get anything done while they were on the phone. The site I'm currently at is mostly engineers and managers of various sorts (product, project, department, etc.). The open environment works incredibly well. The teams that haven't transitioned to an open environment (those in the first building) frequently use the open-areas in the second building (where I work) for collaboration. When someone needs to make/take a call, they usually speak quietly if they're in the general working area, otherwise they use a conference room.
  • That doesn't appear to be an actual study. It's more of an editorial.
  • I fully agree.  In fact, all major studies done on open floorplans vs cubicles vs offices show less productivity and collaboration with open floorplans, yet corporations continue to move this way.  The truth is it permits them to pack more people into less space, from MS's perspective if they can pack another 20-30% into the same size campus that will avoid the cost of building more buildings which can itself run into the billions over time. It is a terrible trend for employees though.  I certainly hate it in my current job.  
  • @David Fleetwood, it depends on a)your role b)the people around you c)and on yourself. I've worked in a small company with an open environment and it was much easier to discuss and collab. If your siloed off in a cubicle, there is little to no collaboration and that is compensated by long, boring meetings. I too would prefer working in a open environment as opposed to something akin to lavatory cubicles.
  • A couple problems with that statement: I have *never* actually seen a reduction in meetings due to this approach.  Secondly, actual studies on the topic have found that open environments actually reduce collaboration, despite how people 'feel' its working for them.  Open environments ignore that humans are actually pretty bad at multi-tasking and task switching, and by creating an open environment they are also creating a louder and more distracting environment, which reduces overall productivity.  A basic search will show you that there are several independent studies on the topic, its virtually impossible to find one that finds them to be a net benefit, regardless of the role of those involved. https://www.bing.com/search?q=open20space%20studies&form=EDGENT&...   Have fun finding anything positive in there...  
  • Or they should overhaul the mobile Facebook app because it's a complete joke, then sync it with Facebook Messenger and the best part of this ordeal is that it shouldn't cost them billions of dollars. /just my 2c
  • Hold on a second.... OK, I'm back. Nope, nothing in the article about Facebook apps. Thanks for the spam!
  • If you consider my comment a spam then you must have no idea about the meaning of the word 'spam'. I was being ironic regarding their decisions to change their buildings and everything and still their mobile development is extremely slow and they ignore the crucial parts that need overhauling instead of their buildings. They won't make W10 Mobile successful by having a fancy building, you know? It's the little things that matter and they've been ignoring them since forever.
  • How does MS's Dev team have anything with building a new headquarter? Lol. Architects and construction workers will be doing this!!!
  • Do you have any idea about how companies work? In order to achieve faster and better results you need to focus your attention on what's wrong with your bread and butter [potentially, in this case] and leave aesthetics for later. By the way Microsoft is going with their Mobile OS it's clear as day light that they don't focus as much as they should on the matter at hand. Windows 10 for PCs is half baked, for tablets is 1/3 baked and for Mobile is 1/5 baked and they're talking about their building. Ain't that the future of 'the software king of the world' (Fudzilla)?
  • Your post is BS! Facebook neither Windows Phone is Microsoft's bread and butter. Learn what really is their bread and butter and get back to u. Your comment about Windows 10 and tablets is BS as well.
  • Did you even read what I wrote? The OS is their bread and butter and lately they've been releasing unfinished stuff, they ignore what the people want and so on and so on. Do you even use Windows 10? It is as inconsistent as an OS could be, filled with UX bugs and its browser (the holy Edge that changed the world) has a long way to go before even being considered a possible replacement for IE/Chrome/Firefox and for me as a front-end developer Edge is a bigger joke than the Facebook app. And to understand the bread and butter analogy, at least regarding the Mobile version of Windows, many of my friends would gladly buy a Lumia since they're solid phones and the OS is fast, but the main reason that's keeping them from joining the band is the Facebook app which is incredibly popular where I'm from. One stupid app keeps tons of people away from this platform, how is that irrelevant? With all due respect, this website is filled with Windows fanatics that have no clue about how a good OS should be and ignore any criticism whatsoever. I've been a Windows fanboy since forever, but I'm not blind nor stupid, compared to many of these folks.
  • Oh look, more that has nothing to do with the article. Do you have any idea about how companies work? Please, tell us your credentials behind running a multi billion dollar global coporation with over 100,000 employees in multiple countries scattered around the world. And with all your experience, which apparently includes knowing when an entire company should stop evolving and improving their workflow to overhaul a Facebook app, where on the list of candidates for the Microsoft CEO were you ranked? Are you just bitter because Nadella got the job, even though his business accumen is obviously not as great as yours? But then I guess maybe you don't have the business savvy that you think you do. Because, well, you know, developers actually don't build and architect physical buildings. They leave that to general contractors.  And I must say, your ability to precicely quantify how "baked" a product is is astounding. 1/2 baked, 1/3 baked, 1/5 baked. Exacting, crisply defined numbers. How do you actually determine bakedness of a product? Is there some special thermometer? I guess we can call it the Negruzzi scale. Windows 10 is 0.5 Negruzzis.
  • The baked-o-meter is a standard set by yourself if you know how a good product should be like. Maybe you're still using Windows XP, but if you have used Windows 10 for at least a month you'd notice that many things are off target. Some parts of the OS are brand new, some of them are like in Windows 95, the inconsistency is at its finest. I know about business and software development since I know how the company where I work at develop their products and we're not talking about software worth thousands of dollars a piece, but much more. I know how development and results should be like because our customers are picky like me, a customer for Microsoft. If we deliver an unfinished product all hell breaks loose, and this is what Microsoft did. Until you actually buy a computer that can run Windows 10, or better, buy a tablet, you'll know that the User Experience is below average, even compared to Windows 8.1. You are an extremely frustrated Microsoft fanboy, therefore this is my last comment for you since you're probably stuck in the early 2000's. Good luck in life. : - )
  • So you work at a company that makes software, and that means that you know everything there is about running a company such as Microsoft? You haven't a clue how to run a company of that scale. My cousin works at a BMW factory. He is a janitor. Since BMWs cost more than the low end Hyundai, does that mean that he knows all there is to run BMW? You are making the same claim, that you work at a company that sells a product for a higher price, and so that means you know all there is about running a company such as Microsoft. "You are an extremely frustrated Microsoft fanboy, therefore this is my last comment for you since you're probably stuck in the early 2000's." Oh no, whatever shall I do. The great inventor of the Negruzzi scale has banished me from him? BTW, I give the quality of your comments 0.1 Negruzzis.
  • @nohone : Hahaha I love your comments man, go kill him...! xD
  • I'm pretty sure the developers and project managers are not talking about what plaza is going to be built where and what restaurant they want next. I'd bet those guys don't give a damn. The upper, C-level guys are most likely the ones calling these shots. If I were a standard worker at a company as big as MS, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have a single idea about what they're doing until they announce it to all their employees.
  • Spam - unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of addresses Origin - from a skit on the British television series Monty Python's Flying Circus in which chanting of the word Spam overrides the other dialogue Well lets see, your comment was unsolicited, according to the definition usually, but not always email, and it was sent to a large number of addresses. You are making your comment about nothing that has to do with the article to override dialog about the topic. What does rewriting a Facebook app have to do with how they redesign the building layout of their corporate campus? So yes, it is spam.
  • Many comments are unsolicited, it's the Internet for Christ's sake. If you want people to be on topic all the time, leave your computer and go to a church, maybe you'll have more success there.
  • Yeah, no. Facebook's app and Microsoft's building aren't on the same topic. Please stop the spam. :)
  • Except that both the mobile Facebook app and Messenger are developed by Facebook and not by MS?
  • Except that the Facebook app is made by Microsoft.
  • Yup and it's horrible. After all these years, we still don't have interest lists, a basic function. Unbelievable.
  • After all these years videos and Facebook redirects are opened in the browser. I would honestly fire the whole FB development team since they have no idea about what they're doing.
  • I like cheese. I go to the park and run around and laugh at the kites in the sky. That had about as much relevance to the article as your comment does.
  • I don't like cheese much, lactose intolerant and such, makes my tummy a bit upset, not to mention flatulence big time. But i like snail soup...
  • And what if it's Facebook's API that causes this hmm?
  • I like your comment.. Thanks for pointing it out!! Ignore the hatters... We got a bunch of bored, wannabe, moderators around here.. Pathetic tech police.. Well, wannabe internet police.... Just ignore them.. Say what you wanna say when you wanna say it.... This is an American based site, it's a free country.... Screw the BS!!!!
  • Ah dang, you're right, it's the Windows 8 app that's made by Facebook. Mixed that up, sorry. The Messenger is still Facebook's doing, though.
  • Lol!!! Exactly! The FB apps sucks duck balls, and this article is exactly about that... Preach on, brother❕❕❕❕❕
  • And of the problem is worth FB?
  • How does this relate to "hiring younger employees?"
  • Did you ever see the Google main campus? Or the new Apple building? Compare that to the Microsoft Capmpus and you will find your answer.
  • If young people are truly going to go "ew, the design of this place is soooo normal looking. I'm going two states away to work at another company" then I fear for my generation.
  • "How dare this generation chose a more fun, open and desirable work place environment to work! What do you mean they aren't into cooperate drab? Such a sense of entitlement these days!" [/sarcasm]
  • +1 This. If a company is a multinational billion dollar company, idgaf. Give me money, and I'll work for you.
  • @Jas00555, sadly it may be going that way.
  • Cost billions? What a waste.
  • I know. They could just spend a million by taping huge amounts of feral cats together. Totally the same end result.
  • If they went with the cats option, taped their paws together, and then captured and sold the kinetic energy, they'd bank TRILLIONS!
  • I'm sorry but how is it a waste when they are creating a new place for employees to work in happily and satisfied?
  • I thought the Nokia Devices and Services purchase was a waste.
  • Maybe but that purchase hasn't any thing got to do with this article.
  • Wish they could put this much effort into Windows.
  • The architects are designing all of this, lol. The Dev teams aren't putting any effort.; therefore, according to what you're saying, the Dev teams should sit around and do nothing. Lol.
  • You just hit a whole new level of stupidity. Software development and structural development aren't the same you know. One is done by Microsoft the other by a company specializing in designing buildings.
  • "If approved, the cost of the revamp could run into the billions of dollars." Why not put it into Windows? Get some decent designers and developers. Microsoft own apps lack a lot.
  • What in the world is telling you that they aren't spending billions on Windows? Do you have financial data from MS detailing all their transactions? Are you one of their top level accountants? No, you're most likely not. Do you know what goes on inside of MS? No.
  • They already put billions into Windows. Also... Windows developers don't work on apps.
  • Exactly!!! Why does it seem that no one understands this. Just because this thing is happening, doesn't mean it has anything to do with this other thing. Just cause I'm spending money here does not mean that I'm not spending money over there! The sun doesn't come up because a rooster crows, does it? The whole Windows dev team must be sitting on their butts doing nothing because the top brass are designing a new HQ, right? They must not be spending any money on the Windows platform because all of it is magically getting rerouted to this new HQ!
  • Spend that on 1st party mobile hardware first. Then renovate your place MS :)
  • SMDH... MS doesn't care about Lumia... They just wanna kill it off so Google can't get their nasty little hands on it....
    .......
    The Lumia line is gone.. R.I.P.
  • You've passed into troll territory, and imho... Is pathetic.
  • Where did in the article say anything about The development team? Can You guys read? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I know, I know! Make it round... like a spaceship.Oh wait. Never mind.
  • Make it a giant Windows Logo, lol. Blue housing Windows Team/Azure, Red with Office/Productivity, Green with Xbox and Yellow with Bing/Advertising/Marketing. Color coded!
  • This is a horrible idea.
  • Wasted money . Money that could have been spent developing apps of great looking flagship products.
  • Yeah because is they overhaul their HQ, they will spend all the money they have. Oh, wait.
  • Its not like they have more than a few billion; its not like they're one of the biggest companies on earth.
  • Sounds like a waste of money.
  • Well, the MS money will flow to American workers.
  • I was going to say the same thing.
  • Good point
  • What's the connection on open workspaces and younger employees? They are making it easier for them to be social at work? They are supposed to be working and open workspaces are not required for innovation and productivity. To me they are a total distraction. I bet the senior people don't want to sit in a bullpen. I am so tired of this Millennial crap.
  • It's a way to cheat the system and get more work out of less people by forcing more of them to engage in issues at the same time. Agree that it is horribly distracting and stressful - interesting that I ran across this article earlier about workplace stress being equated to second-hand smoke: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2015/09/04/Study-Stress-at-work-as-bad-as-secondhand-smoke/2741441376128/  
  • Thanks for sharing that article.  
  • There is the fact that you can't hide the fact that you are slacking. With cubicles, if you are playing solitaire, you will only get caught if someone walks up behind you. With an open space, many people can see your screen.
  • If it means more money for construction workers, civil engineers, and the State of Washington, then fine, whatever.
  • There's nothing wrong with reorganising an organisation. What is wrong is not giving your existing staff a chance in a new role. So I do hope they're not planning on laying people off as a result of this reorganisation!
  • I think yet another major lay-off is in order, too!
  • For billions of dollars, couldn't we just build a new campus on the moon?  Apple is building a spaceship, so let's go one further.
  • I highly doubt that it'll cost billions!! that's impossible for one building only! it shouldn't cost more than few hundreds millions (and it's quite expensive!)
  • I would say in 70-150 millions
  • They are getting rid of the "Rooms" feature there too
  • So, they're using someone who designed a tall building that doesn't have a functioning municipal waste system? Sounds fun. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Absolutely wasteful expenditure
  • My company did this and now it's so noisy I have to wear headphones. And since most of my meetings are virtual, this becomes even more distracting. Massive fail.
  • Well, they really should get some new ROOMS!!
  • After visiting apple, google and Fb hqs, I must say Microsoft Redmond campus is still the best for me. More clean and fascinating :)
  • I think they should sort out Skype on tablets (Why not just give in and use the working phone or Xbox One App of Skype to make a universal app), the walking disaster of not having an App for OneDrive (Who comes up with this) and although I personally am a fan and user of Groove, sort out some of the issues that a lot of users have, before they spend any money on redeveloping their buildings.
  • Are they moving to Europe where they have more love?
  • Current plan is that executive suites lack windows.
  • I don't think this is the best time since they just laid off a lot of people Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Wow, some of these comments Lol!.
  • to death Folks  Microsoft's Head quarters is in one of the most  DANGEROUS LOCATIONS on EARTH. it is near the Cascade fault zone which in the past has produced HUGE TIDAL WAVES that if they occured today would kill most of the Population in the Seatle and the redmond area and west coast of the USA. in fact all major USA Enterprises should relocate or have a secondary office building 300 miles inland from the Atlantic or Pacific Coastlands because one HUGE TIDAL wave will kill most of it's key People. There is a rumor that a  comet will strike the Earth in the carebean area this sept 15 to 23rd. if this is so all Peope in the carebean islands must get 1000 feet above sea level to survive the huge tidal waves. All east coast and gulf of mexico and even Pacific coast Americans must move inland 200 miles to not get  killed by the force of the Tidal waves. the force of the impact will be 12 on rechner scale and may set off huge world wild Earth quakes that is why the Pacific coast americans must move inland at least 200 miles. of course this is just a rumor within 2 to 3 weeks the USA President will give out the warning so Pray and get some bus fair, train fare, airplane fare or you car ready to run to get to safty. obey all police, firemen, and USA miltary Peope in this time of emergency do not panic or go any where near rioting peole something could go wrong ang you get shoot by Law enforcement.