Nearly three years ago, I moved to Boston from Redmond to pursue my work with Microsoft as a user-experience (UX) designer in a place closer to family. When I first got to One Memorial Drive, I was stuck in a little first-floor cubicle. I could get my work done, but it wasn’t the most inspiring workplace.
But that changed quickly. Within a year, our small Unified Communications team moved to the 11th floor in the then brand-new Microsoft New England Research & Development Center (which has the world’s best acronym – the NERD Center). From my new location, I have gorgeous views of Boston. I’m also a stone’s throw from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Charles River. Overall, it’s the nicest office space I’ve ever worked in.
Since moving here, we’ve seen this site grow all around us. There now are more than 200 top-flight Microsoft people right here at NERD. They’re working within 10 R&D teams on projects that are key to Microsoft’s future. My team, for instance, is exploring the future of Unified Communications – a field that promises to change how we all conduct work and collaborate with others.
Now the NERD Center is getting even better. The company is leasing and renovating 113,000 square feet of office space in One Cambridge Center, a building just a block or two from where I work. The first phase of work will be completed this summer. Then, our Microsoft Advertising team and our employees from Navic, who have been working from our Waltham Jones Road location, will be moving in.
I think it’s a great thing for Microsoft to make a strong commitment to the Greater Boston area and New England. More than 25,000 people have taken part in events here at NERD. Microsoft is a very real part of the community. Plus, there’s so much talent here with M.I.T. and Harvard nearby, as well as many other top-flight colleges and universities. That creates a fantastic talent pool for us to draw upon.
The facilities here also offer us a great place to work. I’m in an open office plan with commanding views of the Boston skyline. The energy level is wonderful –people talk about their projects and their work and really get to know each other. That helps create a strong sense of community and purpose. That’s important, because the stuff we’re working on is so complex and has so many components that it takes all kinds of approaches and work styles to bring it to fruition.
Also, because we work so closely with our peers in Redmond, we have to practice what we in the Unified Communications field preach. We’re on conference calls all the time, sharing documents and presentations via Office Communicator’s beta version and other tools. It really helps us make our software better and more effective.
I live in West Roxbury, which is in Boston proper. I can easily drive or get transit to my office, which is a nice benefit. And now that I’m here, me, my wife Molly, and our two youngsters – Maggie, 4 (born in Seattle), and Hank, 2 (born in Boston) – are closer to family members. All of that helps make for a great work/life balance and helps me be at my best both at work and at home.
If you’re ever in the Boston area, try to arrange a tour of the NERD Center. It’s a terrific place to work or visit. I’d be happy to show off our space. You also can read more about it here.
Senior UX Lead