Huddle Room Trends 2019: Agile Meeting Spaces

Are Huddle Rooms the conference spaces of tomorrow?

Huddle Room Trends 2019: Agile Meeting Spaces

The concept of the “workplace” is changing.

To succeed in a business environment, today’s employees don’t necessarily need a desk at a specific office or a pre-set schedule for when they need to work. Increasingly, organisations around the world are beginning to embrace a more flexible and agile approach to getting things done. This digitally-enhanced workforce is continually being empowered by new and intuitive solutions like cloud communications, collaboration tools, and huddle rooms.

Huddle rooms are an evolution of the standard conference room environment, designed to support smaller groups, ad hoc meetings, and a more collaborative work environment. With a huddle room, you don’t have to book a large and expensive conference space every time you want to talk about a project with your remote workers or catch up with your clients over a video call. Huddle rooms are the cost-effective, yet highly immersive way to stay connected with dispersed employees and customers around the world.

According to Marco Landi of Polycom, huddle rooms help to simplify the business meeting environment by ensuring that companies don’t have to spend all their time worrying about scheduling conference appointments or getting support from an IT team. All you need to do to launch a meeting within a huddle room is walk into the space.

Here’s what we learned about the upcoming trends of huddle rooms, by speaking to leaders like Logitech and Lifesize.

The Customer Trends That Shaped the Huddle Room Industry in 2018

Huddle rooms aren’t just another design trend like open office spaces. The huddle room is a part of digital transformation for many companies as organisations continue to transition towards smaller, more flexible spaces. Huddle rooms deliver plenty of appealing business benefits, ranging from greater agility to potential cost savings.

These small and convenient meeting spaces ensure that employees can collaborate and communicate quickly, without having to worry about reservation processes. We asked leading companies like Logitech and Lifesize for their thoughts on the customer trends that have pushed the desire for huddle rooms over the last year.

Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, EMEA, for Logitech:

According to Anne Marie Ginn, the Head of Video Collaboration at Logitech, flexible working is one of the biggest trends paving the way for huddle rooms in 2018. “It is having a huge effect on the physical office space and what is now required of it.”

Recent research by Gensler found that only 55% of the workstations in an office are occupied at any given time thanks to the advent of flexible working. “In light of this wasted space and an increasingly dispersed workforce, businesses are rethinking their office layouts and prioritising video-enabled meeting areas. These new spaces allow remote and physical workers alike to collaborate as if they were in the office together.”

The rise in remote working, coupled with the increasing demand for video collaboration platforms has led to a greater need for collaboration technologies, and customers require video systems that are suited to these smaller meeting spaces. “Owing to the unconventional shape of these smaller rooms, cameras with a wider field of view are becoming increasingly necessary. Businesses are also becoming more aware of the importance of high-quality video for remote workers.”

Bobby Beckmann, CTO for Lifesize:

Bobby Beckman, Lifesize

Bobby Beckmann, Lifesize

Bobby Beckmann of Lifesize believes that the most significant driving factor in huddle rooms over the last year has been a rising prioritisation of end-user experiences. “With the number of video conferencing and collaboration products now available on the market accelerating, customers no longer make purchasing decisions based solely on the technical capabilities of products.”

According to Beckmann, organisations have begun to recognise the need for platforms that can provide end-users with a simpler, more unified experience for scheduling their meetings, managing collaboration and more. “Companies have begun to notice the significant time and cost-saving benefits offered when a single platform is available for any team members, in any location, to quickly and easily communicate via virtual meetings.”

The Technologies Creating the Biggest Opportunities for Huddle Rooms

It’s no secret that workspaces in the modern environment are evolving at a rapid pace. Companies are changing the way that they leverage space and technology to support their digital transformation mission. Large and expensive meeting spaces are quickly being replaced with more agile huddle rooms that can be divided to support multiple groups or teams at once.

With huddle rooms, employees can easily pop in and out of ad hoc meetings, host video chats with remote workers across the world, or hold conference calls with their clients – all with minimal costs to worry about.

Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, EMEA, for Logitech:

According to Logitech, the growing need for collaboration platforms, such as those provided by Microsoft and Google could offer a fantastic opportunity for the Huddle Room industry, as they’re helping to improve the popularity of video in the communication space.

“These platforms are designed with familiarity in mind. By mimicking the layout and functionality of consumer apps like Skype, the tools ensure that employees are no longer wary about starting video calls. They see these platforms as an extension of the consumer experience they’re familiar with. Employers accordingly need to provide suitable video devices to cater to the rise of these platforms and allow employees to take advantage of the video experiences they offer.”

Anne noted that resellers and channel partners would benefit from suggesting suitable video devices as part of the value proposition when advising their clients on collaboration platforms. “To ensure the rollout is as straightforward as possible, it helps to suggest video devices that are platform agnostic, and plug-and-play in terms of setup.”

Bobby Beckmann, CTO for Lifesize:

Lifesize believes that productivity bots and automation solutions may be some of the technology trends leading the way for huddle rooms. “Natural Language processing in the consumer space with the rise of products like Alexa has spread to the business environment. New automation and bot integrations are emerging with facial expression recognition, automatic meeting summaries, and language translation.”

Beckmann also notes that machine learning has a lot to offer the meeting and collaboration space. “From background noise suppression and echo cancellation to voice and facial recognition, machine learning has already made huge strides in simplifying the way we communicate from an end-user perspective.” Beckmann feels that when it comes to IT administrators and their ability to manage the collaboration technology stack, machine learning will help with the monitoring of endpoints and networks for enhanced performance and reliability. “As machine learning programs become increasingly sophisticated, these use cases and opportunities will continue to grow at an incredible rate.”

Beyond 2018: What’s Next for 2019?

By 2020, experts predict that 50% of UK employees will be working remotely. In the years ahead, it seems that smaller solutions for conferencing and collaboration will become increasingly crucial, particularly among companies that want to keep their real estate investments to a minimum.

Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, EMEA, for Logitech:

Anne Marie Ginn, Logitech

Anne Marie Ginn, Logitech

Logitech suggests that in the next year, we will continue to see a democratisation of office space within the physical business environment. As Anne puts it: “Walls will continue to be knocked down, and video-enabled huddle rooms will become video huddle spaces. These will be huddle rooms without walls that are tucked away into specific parts of the office.”

As office spaces become more open, Logitech believes that it will be crucial for companies to offer video solutions that have the right audio features embedded. “These devices will need to be compact, yet powerful, providing clear audio for participants, and offering sophisticated noise-cancelling microphones to counteract the noises of the office.”

Ginn also noted that she believes there will be an increase in companies integrating video into their workflow application so that “video first” becomes the standard collaboration mode. “In parallel, we expect to see broader use cases for video technologies in the workplace. For example, facial recognition supported by Logitech BRIO will be driven by concerns around password security. Flexible working practices will become even more flexible, and the office will increasingly fade from being the primary location for work” Logitech believes that providing the right technology will become a crucial component in the fight for talent, and the battle for better collaboration.

Bobby Beckmann, CTO for Lifesize:

Lifesize thinks that in 2019, video will evolve from being a benefit for business teams to a necessity. “It will be a must-have for almost any business to stay relevant. This means that video conferencing will move from being a bonus feature or an option to a requirement for getting business done with affiliates and remote employees. From virtual home tours in real estate to automatic translation on multi-language calls, new capabilities will emerge in the next year that cement video conferencing’s value.”

As video becomes more essential, Beckmann feels that it will surpass the need for in-person meetings entirely. “Live translations and facial expression monitoring will make video-assisted calls far superior to in-person meetings for many exchanges, by offering advanced insights and advanced analysis for companies.”

Lifesize also suggests that meeting room technologies will begin to converge. Beckmann noted that the average business is currently juggling 4.4 collaboration technology tools at once to keep users connected. “As meeting technologies converge, the end user experience will become even more seamless, making it easier to focus on the conference at hand.”

 

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