Tuesday 23 October 2018

WATCH: A digital lake, bespoke pizzas and their very own coffee blend - peek inside Microsoft's new Dublin digs

  • Height of building atrium equivalent to five Dublin Buses sitting on top of each other
  • The new campus has the floor space of four football pitches
  • Total IT cabling used in the building would stretch from Dublin to Dingle (350km)
  • 'Digital lake' welcomes staff and visitors alike at the entrance
  • Microsoft engaged employees to (wait for it...) create their own blend of coffee
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

A welcoming harbour area, a digital lake and a mountain staircase are the key design features that visitors encounter as they walk through the doors of Microsoft's new €134m campus.

Collaboration was the crucial factor in the creation of the new building's architecture at South County Business Park in Leopardstown, which brings together 2,000 employees from 71 different nationalities under one roof.

HR Director at Microsoft Ireland, Joanne Morrissey, told Independent.ie that all the different units within the group have now been brought together into this workspace, all designed with collaboration in mind.

"The whole idea of the building was that it was bringing people together and bringing the growth mindset to life. It's really about a culture of continuous learning... bringing people together," Ms Morrissey said.

"Whether you're a site reliability engineer, an AI bot builder, a software engineer or someone working in field sales, operations sales, supporting our customers or partners right across the globe; it all happens here."

The 34,000 sq m building - a site of just under 3 hectares - is now the main Irish base for the multinational firm which has been here for over 30 years.

Located on a woodland setting backing on to the Leopardstown racecourse, the rooftop terraces of One Microsoft Place overlook a landscape filled with greenery and bordered by mountains.

But taking a sneak peek tour ahead of today's official opening with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Independent.ie are taken on a walk-through of the site which aims to be "the perfect space to enable development, innovation and creativity".  

Joanne Morrissey
Joanne Morrissey

Read more: Passion, personality and perfect nails...Microsoft Ireland's key employee criteria - and the firm's top perks

Designed with an island metaphor in mind, visitors (and staff) arrive to the building through the harbour area, "a place of welcome" and approach the digital lake, which has over 125,000 LED lights.

Looming overhead is the mountain, which is the central stairs and acts as "the central spine to the building" with all the meeting and conference rooms built off it.

"Even the simple things about how the people come together and walk across the building, or how closely office functions are located to each other, those chance encounters are what we've have engineered, purposeful collision," said Ms Morrissey.

The total IT cabling used in the building measures 350km, a distance from Dublin to Dingle, and 25,000 individual pieces of furniture have been collected from all four corners of the world.

It's easy to build up your FitBit steps walking around the four floors of the building and physical wellbeing is central to the group's focus, ("the mountain is the equivalent of five double decker buses"), with the basement gym and atrium yoga room popular features.

"Microsoft has developed Fuel Your Everything, an employee wellbeing programme that aims to assist employees in fuelling their mind, body and life," said Ms Morrissey.

"This holistic wellbeing offering is provided in two ways: through a set of Wellbeing Experiences, which aims to develop employee capability or key life skills, including a parenting programme, financial wellbeing, mindfulness, and our peak performance programme.

"There is also a wide range of Wellness Centre treatments such as health screening, physiotherapy, dental and optical, massage, reflexology, barber and even a nail salon."

But, of course, employees require fuel for their fire and the new office offers at least five different types of eateries; a Street Kitchen ("from ramen to burgers"), Pulse salad bar, a Chef's Table ("traditional grill and potatoes"), Forage and Gather ("variety of meats and salads"), and there's also an Italian Quarter where bespoke pizzas and pasta dishes are created. 

"Lunchtime here starts at 11.30am; people are in so early in the day as they're actually supporting markets including Dubai, and The East and Africa," said Ms Morrissey.

"One of the interesting things in how we went about engaging employees was creating our own blend of coffee; we had a series of focus groups to finally make Cortado."

Microsoft's new digs recognise that some people do their best work sitting on the couch in the living room, while others may like a more structured setting. There are over 3,000 seats in the building with 1,765 work stations so staff can pick the space to suit their preference.

"There are over 85 different meeting rooms on each floor. The nature varies depending on the style of work, large conference rooms, small focus rooms and individual phone booths if you want to have some space to yourself," said Ms Morrissey.

There are currently between 70-80 vacancies open at the moment across a range of disciplines at Microsoft Ireland.

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