Microsoft Opens ‘Garage’ to Encourage Innovation

Microsoft Redmond Campus; Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft opened the doors last week to its new Garage building, a newly remodeled center that has been made available to employees for after-hours projects.

According to reporters from CNET, who were given the first tours of the facility, Microsoft developed the concept to encourage innovation and creativity for its employees who want to work on side-projects when not in the office.

“The goal was to figure out how we could support grassroots innovation,” said Quinn Hawkins, director of the Garage.

The 60,000-square-foot facility in Redmond, Wash., has been remodeled to allow for more open space. The office encourages teamwork and collaboration among employees with temporary work spaces called “pods” and allows for the access to tools and resources that will assist workers in developing new technologies.

“The inspiration came from all the great companies that started in a garage,” Hawkins said.

By placing workers with similar interests and skills under one roof, Microsoft hopes the new space will allow for an easier way of sharing ideas among its 90,000 employees.

Besides its revamped space, the Garage also encourages creativity and innovation by hosting competitions and events for Microsoft employees to showcase their ideas. Workers participate in “science fairs,” where employees are judged on poster-board samples of their creations, and “Garage weeks,” where business units halt operations and allow workers the freedom to work on alternative ideas.

“The Garage has taken on a broader context within Microsoft,” said Matt Jubelirer, a senior product manager in the business unit for the Garage. “It’s created a forum where it feels OK to tinker.”

Microsoft began the Garage concept two years ago, but did not begin the renovations until this year. It took six months to remodel the building.

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