Huddle rooms provide the ultimate collaboration space, says Natalie Barnet
Huddle rooms – small, private, comfortable meeting areas equipped with teleconferencing and collaborative tools for up to six people – bring numerous business benefits. Offering space for ad hoc meetings and discussions, they facilitate easy communication and engagement.
For effective huddle rooms, consider the following.
1. Know your users
As with any investment, it is important to ensure that the outcome will have a positive effect on users and, in the case of technology, that uptake will be high.
- Speak to users about their pain points before making any decisions. Common problems include:
- Choosing complicated systems that lack usability and aren’t tailored to users’ tasks;
- Unreliable systems due to variable audio and video quality;
- A poor overall environment that deters people from using the rooms because of cluttered desks and complicated cables, for example; and
- Lack of control over heating and cooling.
Once you understand the issues facing employees it will be easier to select the best solutions to suit their jobs, for example, conferencing tools with one-click connection, necessary bandwidth for video calls, and designing easy-to-use spaces.
2. Choose the right technology
Huddle rooms are cost-effective; they don’t need all the high-end devices you’d expect in a boardroom. However, distinguish between what is essential and what’s ‘nice to have’.
A video collaboration system will be central to your huddle space. Consider how many people will usually be on a call, whether you need to integrate other applications to share content, and how often would the system be used.
A central display is essential to enable teams to share documents, brainstorm ideas, view presentations and conduct videoconferences. Bigger is often better; it is vital that everyone can engage with any content that is being shown – but don’t go over the top in a small space – around 50 inches should suffice.
For very creative environments, consider an interactive screen and digital whiteboards to facilitate the sharing of content at the touch of a button.
Not essential but advantageous is a wireless presentation system, which makes it easy to share work – boosting collaboration and productivity. It also dispenses with the fuss of users having to connect devices directly to a display and minimises the mess and confusion that a mass of wires can cause.
3. Focus on furniture
From desks with integrated connectivity and displays for easy viewing of content to height-adjustable solutions for added flexibility, the right furniture can make or break a room. Whatever your preferred style, make sure there is enough desk space for each participant to be able to bring their own devices and work comfortably and collaboratively – a cramped space will not be popular with the room’s users.
4. Consider the environment
Environmental factors such as heat, light and sound can have a big impact on the usability of a space. Investing in acoustics, for example, can make a huge difference to the user experience. Sound insulation can prevent noise leakage into and out of the room, and the right microphone will ensure that even those at the far end of a video call can hear everyone.
Lighting levels need to be similarly managed; too much sunlight can make it difficult to be seen clearly on a video call, whereas if spaces are too dark it is difficult to work effectively. Try to make the most of natural light in huddle rooms and consider installing a lighting control system for the optimum user experience.
There’s no point in investing in the best audio and video if connectivity hasn’t been considered: whether that’s ease of connecting to calls, Wi-Fi that works as well in the room as it does in the main workspace, or simply making sure that there are enough easily accessible ports for devices to be charging when in use. They can even be built into furniture for added ease.
Natalie Barnet is managing director at Hudd.io