Tour a modern office building and you’ll likely see two types of workspaces—personal and communal. Individual workspaces, whether they are offices or open cubicles, provide employees a private environment in which to perform and create, while traditional conference rooms, which often hold upwards of 20 people or more, are ideal for large meetings or presentations.
What about those in-between circumstances, though, when small groups need to meet, but don’t want to take up the whole conference room? What if a team member needs to communicate with a telecommuting colleague or have a videoconference with a client, but needs more privacy than an open desk in an open plan office space allows? What if a team leader suddenly feels the urge to brainstorm and wants to pull a couple colleagues in to participate, but the conference room is unavailable? Companies have solved these problems and more by turning to huddle rooms—smaller conference rooms with just the right equipment and seating to accommodate two to four people.
In an office designed to include a huddle room, less is more—but, it’s important to note that both the less and the more bring value to the company. Here’s how:
Equipment. A huddle room typically includes a video screen with a microphone, plus a phone system for audio conferencing. If mobile employees need to use the huddle room, they can connect remotely via a streaming device, and use a video screen or short-throw projector to give presentations to those physically within the space. A mounted camera and speaker system installed in the ceiling can be all that’s needed to effectively handle videoconferencing.
While a traditional conference room for a large company may have telepresence capabilities—a complex system of strategically placed cameras, microphones, screens, and hardware devices—the equipment in a huddle room is designed to be as space-saving and minimal as possible.
Space. Office floor plans are becoming more and more open and efficient. Huddle rooms help meet that design goal because they are multi-purpose and take up much less space than traditional conference rooms. Many companies have remote, mobile or traveling employees who may only be in the office once in a while and don’t have a need for the more traditional, large sized conference room. This valuable real estate is put to better use as huddle rooms.
Stress. If employees need to meet quickly and casually, the comfortable and high-tech huddle room is ideal. When small groups collaborate on a project, oftentimes they are broken into teams. The low-stress environment of a huddle room encourages and enables those teams to brainstorm freely and distribute ideas to all those working on the project, even if they’re using the huddle room in shifts.
Opportunities for video collaboration. As mentioned before, more professionals today work remotely at least part of the time, and videoconferencing in a huddle room allows them to meet privately with colleagues and have an “in-office” presence during meetings. In addition to encouraging video collaboration, huddle rooms give those part-time telecommuters a private place to work from when they are in the office, so that company resources are not wasted on unused space when they’re working remotely.
Cost-effectiveness. Less equipment equals less cost, just as less unused office space means fewer lost resources. Many times large conference rooms go unused for most of the week, yet they still require lighting, heating, and air conditioning. Huddle rooms are a cost-effective option that uses space more judiciously and provides more economical choices for companies looking to also address the needs of telecommuters and small groups.
Functionality. A huddle room helps increase the workflow within an office, because of the ability to communicate and collaborate easily and quickly, leading to higher efficiency and functionality. When employees have the freedom to meet to exchange ideas, both in-person and using videoconferencing in a productive environment like a huddle room, everyone benefits.
It’s important to note that huddle rooms do not make traditional conference rooms obsolete. Traditional meeting rooms still have a rightful place in offices, as they allow for advanced telepresence systems, multi-person presentations, and large gatherings. Depending on an organization’s size, a combination of huddle rooms and conference rooms within the office is usually the best option, maximizing company productivity and use of resources. However, companies of all sizes, from the enterprise on down, are starting to realize less is more. They are seeing how much big value small huddle rooms can provide in the modern-day business space.