Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is planning a multibillion-dollar overhaul of its main campus in Redmond, Washington in a bid to get the best out of staff and boost its recruitment drive.
The company said in a blog post that the new look campus will be the equivalent size of 180 football fields, creating enough extra room to add 8,000 new employees to its current 47,000 workforce. The plan is to create more open office space to encourage greater collaboration and creativity among staff, similar to how some of Microsoft’s tech rivals operate.
Microsoft added that the construction project will take between five- and seven-years to complete and involves replacing 12-low rise buildings with 18 new offices, many of which will be double the height. To create more space and facilitate a pedestrian-friendly environment, the company will move its 131 buildings closer together and relocate parking facilities underground.
The design includes a two-acre open-air plaza, featuring running and walking trails, sports facilities and green spaces. Microsoft said the new community space can fit up to 12,000 people.
“We've focused on the cultural transformation of the company,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an interview with Bloomberg. “We want to create a workspace that supports the culture we are creating. A workspace that encourages people to be creative, to work with each other and to learn from each other.” (See also: Bill Gates Invests $80 Million in Arizona Smart City.)
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft and author of the blog post, also used the occasion to take a small dig at Seattle-based neighbor Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). “When it comes to headquarters, one is enough, we feel,” he told The New York Times.The ecommerce giant announced in September that it plans to set up a second headquarters outside of the area. More than 200 cities are reportedly vying to become Amazon’s second home. (See also: Amazon Seeks 'Business Friendly' City for HQ2.)
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates first moved the company to its Redmond campus in 1986, just before it went public. In the years that followed, employees reportedly joked that finding an office was tricky enough to be considered part of the interviewing process, according to Bloomberg. Smith admitted that he failed the test.