Breakout Spaces Part 1: Huddle Rooms For a More Collaborative, Connected Workplace

How has your workplace changed in the last 24 months; in the last 12 months even? No doubt your office has already begun to emanate the trending conversion from large conference rooms of formalised meetings and conferences to a swathe of intimate and heavily connected meeting rooms. Huddle rooms are fast becoming the pin-up feature of this brave new workplace; defined by a move to open-floor plans with informal collaboration spaces laced throughout.

How Huddle Rooms are Transforming Collaboration

What huddle rooms facilitate is impromptu meetings, collaboration, and connectivity. The spill-over effect of open-plan offices is the move to a diverse selection of breakout spaces that encourage a move away from formal meetings between employees to short off-the-cusp meetings that achieve faster, more immediate results.

A “huddle room” is a meeting room that, due to its size or layout, can physically accommodate a small number of members – ideally two to four attendees and typically no more than six. While workplaces of late have embraced these modest spaces with eager enthusiasm in new workspace fit-outs and refurbishments, they aren’t necessarily a new concept as much as they have been an overlooked asset until recent times. Smaller meeting spaces have existed in offices for some time, but the clincher is they have previously been relegated to the status of “that small room in the corner” for several reasons, including their perceived unimportance as a smaller room with more modest furniture, technology, and capabilities; their typical position as an afterthought in “leftover” floor space; and, from a technology perspective, typical AV capabilities tend to focus on larger meeting rooms with expensive and in-demand resources that are therefore considered IT facilities to invest in.

These small spaces offer great versatility; typically used by employees to host meetings, brainstorming sessions, and presentations. They can also function as a meeting room would; allowing meetings between prospective clients and team members with ease. Huddle spaces work to connect office-bound employees with remote workers via videoconferencing capabilities – dissolving the trend of time and distance separation between coworkers with the click of a call button.

Employees are forming personal connections

While we might assume the backlog of email chains is a fate reserved for external communications, the somber fact is that the email chain can seep into internal communication processes, too. “Stepping into a huddle room” for five encourages employees to interact face-to-face, either physically or virtually, to sound out problems and reach mutual outcomes faster than back-and-forth emails ever could.

Teams are getting things done

Well equipped huddle rooms really are helping teams to work together in more efficient and effective ways. Typical teams need to perform several functions, from communicating in an enclosed space without worrying about disturbing others around the office and presentation sharing between one team in the space and another on the screen, to collaborating in an environment that facilitates ideas sharing on one table. In each example of collaboration, huddle spaces answer the call with a simple, no-fuss solution to team functions.

How to optimise huddle rooms for collaboration

Content Sharing

The basic requirements to create an effective huddle room setup include a single table to encourage employees to work together, and collaborative tools such as interactive whiteboards to facilitate quick idea sharing and presentations.

Collaborative Technologies

For the mobile worker, technology allows collaboration across spatial and temporal distance. While you shouldn’t expect to find ceiling speaker and table microphones in a huddle room, optimal smaller spaces should have video conferencing capabilities that allow employees to easily broadcast presentations with the aid of wireless streaming devices, video screens, and the growing range of portable devices; cameras and speakers.

Room Scheduling

While we champion huddle rooms for their flexibility and impromptu nature, to manage the rising popularity of team projects in smaller huddle spaces, workspace management software such as Condeco’s Room Booking tools allow teams to manage schedules by making availability as transparent as a touch panel located outside each huddle room.

Looking ahead, huddle rooms don’t purpose to replace traditional conference rooms in your office dynamic. Instead, they work to free-up the complex technologies of large conference rooms to perform their intended use for larger meetings and presentations, while huddle rooms that are too small to manage such functionalities fill the space between. In this middle-ground of informal meeting management, you will find teams huddled together for a workplace buzzing with the promises of greater connectedness and collaboration.

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