In the olden days, companies had one large, formal conference room used for video conferencing. This was great for larger meetings scheduled weeks in advance. But in today’s workplace, collaboration often happens more spontaneously among smaller groups of co-workers. That’s why huddle spaces are becoming more and more popular. They provide a much-needed space for informal collaboration that occurs in the course of doing business every day.
Why Huddle Space is On the Rise
Huddle rooms are a way to bridge a gap between a conversation in a hallway and a large, formal conference room. It means more than sharing a cat video, or even a work-related flowchart on your iPhone, but has less complex logistic and technical requirements than a monthly meeting of division heads.
The need is clear. Huddle rooms create space in an open office for focused collaboration on a small, informal scale. In 2018, a study of over 1,000 participants from mid-to-enterprise-level businesses found that 93% agreed that open office environments required more huddle spaces.
But having a huddle room and using it effectively are two different things. The survey found that almost 8 out of 10 huddle space users faced frustration when using the designated huddle rooms.
This frustration came in two main areas – ease of use, and technology failures like poor audio or video quality. Understanding these frustrations and providing solutions is a great way for AV integrators to help clients manage their huddle spaces more effectively and make better use of them.
Challenge 1: Ease of Use
When talking with clients about huddle space needs, help them focus on quality, reliability, and scalability. They want spaces designed for ease of use and a unified experience wherever a huddle space is found throughout the office complex. They are looking for huddle space with equipment that can be used any time by anyone, and by using any approved BYO Device.
One way to manage ease of use is to provide huddle space “kits” with the same set of hardware and software that can be tailored to the space and situation as needed. The basics might include a display, a quality microphone, webcam, and easy integration with employee laptops or other devices. The client might be tempted to cut corners. Be ready to field an answer to a client’s assertion that laptops do come with webcams and built-in microphones and speakers? Why not use those? You can point to data and your own experience to tell them that huddle space on a budget is laudable, but likely to lead to user complaints.
Ease of use means choosing the equipment best suited to the space. Factor in room size and the average number of participants that are likely to be working at one time in the huddle space. This info will help you optimize the kit for your clients’ needs and deliver on ease of use in a space that is as frustration-free as possible.
Challenge 2: Design and Equipment Fails
To get to that frustration-free zone, equipment and design have to be functional when and where employees need it.
Sadly, recent data showed a 78% dissatisfaction rate with huddle space technology within the past 6 months. The survey also showed that only 11% of pros in charge of huddle space technology had access to 360-degree information on huddle room utilization.
So employees experience frustration, but you as an AV pro do not have ready access to the data that will ease that frustration. How should these challenges be addressed?
Especially in open-plan facilities, encourage clients to make efficient and helpful huddle spaces a priority. This means understanding the needs of employees. Consider spending time observing workplace habits and making recommendations based on those observations.
Knowing what the needs are will help you design with the best uses in mind. Next, make sure the equipment is right for the space. For instance, is the camera set up to optimize the field of vision so the viewers on the other end can see all attendees? Audio is an often-overlooked challenge, so make sure the right microphones and speakers are in place for the best experience in huddle space use.
The rise of the huddle space means your clients need assistance in creating rooms that are easy to use and function well to aid in employees’ collaborative efforts. Understanding the pain points clients are facing will help you address those needs effectively and help you become the huddle space hero.
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