As the workforce moves away from a centralized location and projects become more specialized, huddle rooms are taking on a more important role to maintain connections between team members. The same trend is happening in the world of higher education with the increasing popularity of low-residency programs creating a greater need for more effective collaboration between a widespread faculty and student body.
With the workforce increasingly searching for more flexible work arrangements as a primary reason for choosing one employer over another, it’s essential that the most competitive companies invest in AV-centric collaboration spaces. Today, true collaboration means creating and encouraging intimate gatherings to foster better working relationships between all employees. Once you combine the freedom and productivity that remote work offers with the ease of in-person collaboration, you can realize powerful productivity results as well as savings to your bottom line.
What Is A Huddle Room?
Huddle rooms solve many of the problems created by a conference room-centric office by making better use of limited available space. For one thing, huddle rooms are a lot smaller and don’t need to be scheduled. The express purpose of these facilities is to allow two to six people to gather in a space quickly and easily anytime during the workday. These rooms can be used for many types of small group applications, from brainstorming to presentations and even interviews. The best huddle rooms should be well-insulated for sound and come equipped with AV conferencing capabilities to help remote workers stay connected to their in-office counterparts.
The Future Of Work Is Remote & Collaborative
If you already have an AV-ready conference room, you know the benefits of being able to connect and chat directly with colleagues while out of the office. The traditional conference room is a limited resource with a lot of wasted space not designed to serve small groups of people working from multiple locations with tight scheduling restrictions. The concept of the “boardroom meeting” isn’t nearly as relevant in 2017 as it as it has been in the past as more work moves away from the physical office.
Since fewer candidates are willing to move close to a centralized office to find work, both businesses and higher education institutions continue to struggle to attract local talent. Huddle rooms offer an easy solution for both, as the BYOD spaces these facilities create help to widen your pool of talented candidates to a truly global scale. Educators can meet with students in small groups, or even hold office hours, via video conference. Business professionals can still gain the efficiency and productivity they expect from small, on-the-fly meetings with colleagues in the office or while on the go.
Transforming The Learning Experience
Whether in higher education or in the business world, education is an ongoing, lifelong process. Huddle rooms can be transformative as educators and corporate trainers now have new flexibility to incorporate engaging media into their educational presentations. Imagine the difference in effectiveness between a lecture made up of static slides and one that includes engaging video of a concept in action and a conference call with an expert on the topic.
Whether you’re in higher education or a corporate training role, an AV-centered huddle room is generally a more effective tool to help convey ideas and facilitate discussion. Outside of the educational environment, creating flexible spaces for collaboration can help business leaders and colleagues work better together in smaller, more effective groups. As the old adage teaches us, “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.” Projects often lose steam when spread out too thin among large groups. Both within the educator-to-student environment and in peer-led educational settings, small groups using robust video tools bring human connectivity closer together resulting in better professional communication.
Keeping Remote Workers Engaged
One of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a healthy and productive remote work office goes far beyond the simple exchange of ideas. Keeping your workforce engaged with your mission and larger goals is key ingredient to ensure maximum productivity. Every employee, no matter their work location, feels more engaged with the goals of the organization when they are fully plugged into the culture as those on campus every day.
Collaborative technology that works and is easy to use also helps keep your entire workforce better engaged in a more literal sense. When on-campus employees need to collaborate with remote employees, that precious huddle time becomes much more important to everyone on the call, with less time wasted getting devices to work together with your AV suite. Ease-of-use is key to adoption so that meetings can happen quickly and your workers have a greater incentive to stick close to their workstations.
Huddle Room Checklist
There are a few essentials that make a huddle room function well. Ideally, these rooms should strike a perfect midpoint between gathering in an oversize conference room and crowding around a co-worker’s computer, including enough table space for everyone to bring their laptop. This is one area that you need to balance function against form. Consider starting with these necessities:
- Large display. Make sure the screen is large enough to be able to see small text and details clearly as well as the ability to show a person from the shoulders up as if they were seated in the room.
- Small table & chairs. It goes without saying that you’ll need a durable work surface big enough to comfortably hold everyone’s laptop without crowding.
- Whiteboard. Whether it’s a smartboard, a window, or a whiteboard, you need to be able to write down everyone’s thoughts and contributions in a way that is visible to all collaborators.
- Enterprise-quality conferencing audio. It’s essential that everyone inside and outside the huddle room be able to hear each other clearly. Although you probably already have this capability, we can help figure out the best set-up for you with an AV consultation.
- Elimination of sound echo. If your room is full of hard surfaces, adding some fabrics, curtains, carpet, or sound insulation foam will help deaden echoes and improve the overall room acoustics. An HB Communications AV consultant can help you with that as well.
Support & Maintenance
Ease of use should be your primary goal when building your collaboration spaces, regardless of the user’s devices or preferred means of connecting to the room. When problems occasionally arise, your workforce is always best served by human support that’s only a phone call away. HB Communication’s clients can elect to receive 24/7 support to ensure your rooms are always up to date and easy to navigate. From the design, through the build out and ongoing support, HB Communications can help you transform your underutilized spaces into highly productive collaboration areas that serve your evolving workforce. You can’t afford not to upgrade your office and HB Communications can help you achieve your goals within budget and on time.
Collaboration and communication have long been proven as effective ways to improve productivity and overall quality of work. Remote work opportunities offer employees new ways to be productive on their own terms, while collaborative technology like smart boards and huddle rooms can power that productivity into something truly amazing. For higher education institutions, huddle rooms open a whole new world of collaboration possibilities for both students and faculty to work together from remote locations to discover new insights through focused collaboration.
This article was first published on HB Communications.
Lisa is the marketing manager at HB Communications, among the largest and most innovative Audiovisual System Integrators in North America. HB designs, builds, and supports audiovisual communication environments for organizations around the world.