Are the Huddle Room’s days numbered?
Huddle rooms are a cost-effective solution for offices to provide smaller, more numerous spaces for their staff to meet and collaborate.
As we plan the return to the office around social distancing, are the days of the huddle space numbered? What are the alternatives and what is the impact the organisation’s UC strategy?
Let there be space
Over the last decade or so, many offices adopted open floor plan layouts. The intention was to make better use of space, and at the same time create a working environment in which teams and colleagues would interact and collaborate more.
However, several studies have since shown that open plan offices decrease productivity and can negatively effect morale of staff. So, huddle spaces were created. Small, private spaces staff could meet in small groups. Typically kitted out with a screen for collaboration or video meetings, they offered staff a handy location for a bit privacy for small meetings.
As they grew in popularity, it was common collaboration strategy to creating a large board room for the business leadership, a few larger video-equipped meeting rooms for teams and multiple huddle spaces across the office for impromptu and smaller meetings.
All change please
I don’t want to labour the point that the way we work and collaborate has been squarely torpedoed by the global pandemic. But the green shoots are starting to come through, slowly, carefully we are starting to think about returning to something like life before lockdown.
But what is likely is that huddle spaces will suffer a bit of a downturn in the near future. Social distancing rules will effectively slash the capacity of offices and meeting spaces. 8-10 seat rooms will only be able to fit a few people as they maintain the two metre distancing rules.
A large shift to remote working should help to ease some of the issues caused by social distancing. Remote working has proved to be a very viable way to work and will be an expected feature of new professionals entering the workplace in the future. Even the more reluctant organisations have been shown that it is easier to manage than they perhaps thought and brings a heap of cost savings and environmental benefits. We are now seeing organisations start to plan shifts with some staff in the office and some working from home on different days to ease capacity and enable distancing.
And so, cosy small huddle spaces will essentially become one or two-man pods for ‘in-office’ staff to conduct calls or video meetings. A typical four-person meeting might have two staff remoting in from home while the other two use available huddle spaces or meeting rooms to stay distanced.
Is the huddle room dead?
Not just yet..
Larger meeting rooms will still be essential despite their reduced capacity. But with space and availability becoming more premium, the huddle spaces will still be useful to pick up the slack for smaller meetings and video calls. However it does look likely that less bodies in the office will ease some of this pressure.
One alternative would be video booths, small closed of spaces for staff to video call in private but at some point in the future, distancing will be relaxed and organisations will be able to use their meeting space’s full capacities again. Collaboration strategies need to account for both short, medium and long term. Focusing not just on the number and size of spaces, but supporting a larger number of staff remotely, maintaining familiar user workflows, staying secure and enabling seamless collaboration between teams, staff and external contacts.
This can be hard to plan for in the current climate with so many unknowns but that’s where Videocall can help. We have over 25 years’ experience helping our clients work through their unified communication, collaboration, and system integration challenges.