Some companies have perks like free beer, nap pods or ping pong tables. At Amazon, employees can now chill out in a real rainforest.
Last week, after seven years of planning and construction, the online retailer has unveiled their glass Spheres complex.
The Spheres’ three glass domes house some 40,000 plants of 400 species. Amazon, famous for its demanding work culture, hopes the Spheres’ lush environs will let employees reflect and have chance encounters, spawning new products or plans.
The space is more like a greenhouse than a typical office. Instead of enclosed conference rooms or desks, there are walkways and unconventional meeting spaces with chairs. The glass orbs were built to let Amazon workers escape from emails, meetings, reports and deadlines to walk along stone paths beside waterfalls, let ferns from South America brush their shoulders and the moist, tropical air fill their lungs.
Just inside the doors is a five-story “living wall” cascading with greenery. The climate varies throughout so visitors can find a “micro-climate” to their liking. The temperature swings as much as five degrees, a big difference in the humid environment, and ventilation systems simulate an outdoor breeze. Visitors first notice the warm, moist air, about 72 degrees and 60 percent humidity, compared with the 30 percent humidity in a typical office.
The spheres can accommodate 800 people at a time, and Amazon will use employee badges to monitor time spent inside and make sure no one hogs the tree fort. Management wants employees to relax, just not too much.
Amazon has invested $3.7 billion on buildings and infrastructure in Seattle from 2010 to summer 2017.