MSFT Expanding in Seattle

One reason I like to get first class upgrades when I fly is that I work up there. I usually can't type on my notebook when I'm in coach. There's simply no room. Then I am left to reading a book or watching a movie.

That seems like a good deal because I get some extra leisure time on the plane in coach. But the problem is, I still need to do the work, and may have to stay up late to get everything done once I reach my destination.

In other words, if I can work on the plane for 3 hours, I can go to bed 3 hours earlier that night.

It seems Microsoft understands this concept. They made two major announcements in Seattle today. They are expanding in the city of Seattle (as opposed to Redmond), and they are introducing their own bus service for employees.

I find this interesting. Microsoft is expanding in the downtown Seattle area. They will have 1400 jobs to the area over the next few months.

In addition to the new jobs, they are adding space to accommodate Redmond workers who find themselves on this side of the lake.

One goal is to better accommodate Microsoft employees who live in Seattle, Liddell said. In addition to the traditional office space, the company is creating 150 "touch down" spaces in the Westlake/Terry building -- small spots where employees who work in Redmond can sit down, plug in a laptop and work in Seattle for a couple of hours when they have a meeting in the city or want to avoid rush hour.

"The spaces are temporary -- they won't be second offices," Liddell explained. "But they will help relieve some of the pressures and unnecessary back-and-forths currently taking place."
Since much work these days requires simply a notebook computer and an internet connection, workers can have more flexibility.

The main campus is several miles east of Seattle, but it can take anywhere from 25 to 105 minutes to get there depending on traffic. And with Seattle's inability to make any decisions on infrastructure, I don't see that changing.

And MSFT doesn't want employees squandering hours sitting in a stopped car on the SR520 floating bridge. So they are also starting their own bus service.

The 14-bus Microsoft "Connector" system, to debut later this month, was announced as the company unveiled plans to open new offices in Seattle's South Lake Union and Pioneer Square neighborhoods.

At launch, the bus system will handle no more than 1,000 employees a day. That's only a slice of Microsoft's more than 35,000 employees in the region.

But the fact that Microsoft would find it necessary to take such a step added new fuel to the debate over comprehensive regional transportation reform.

The pilot program will include 14 buses, including seven large coaches with bike storage, and electrical outlets at each seat, in addition to Wi-Fi. Seven midsize coaches will be used for neighborhood pickups. There will be multiple runs in the morning and afternoon, Smith said.

Besides reducing traffic congestion and minimizing air pollution, keeping employees out of bumper-to-bumper traffic also keeps them happy.
And with those amenities on the bus, it looks like transit time can more effectively be used as work time. And maybe someone can get to bed an hour or two earlier

For more information about the downtown expansion, click here.

For more information about the new bus service, click here.

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