Huddle Rooms: The New Meeting Experience

Formality is out of fashion in business – the huddle room is in

Huddle Rooms: The New Meeting Experience

As more and more meetings go ad hoc and virtual, the demands on conferencing technology are changing…

Formality is out of fashion in business. Once unthinkable, it is now acceptable for executives to wear a shirt and jacket without a tie. Staff address their bosses by their first name. And meetings, once carefully planned, orchestrated events, are increasingly becoming ad hoc, off-the-cuff occasions just as likely to happen in a coffee bar as a proper meeting room.

Huddle Room
To reflect this change in meeting culture, there’s a new phrase in town – the huddle. Well, it’s not even that new anymore – companies like Walmart did away with team meetings in favour of team huddles long ago. Participants are encouraged to bring cake to share. Many huddles happen without people even sitting down.

The huddle is a reflection of an evolving working culture which prizes flexibility, open knowledge sharing, collaboration and innovation. The complaint so often levied against more formal business meetings is that have a tendency to be long-winded and even pointless – people would hold meetings for the sake of holding a meeting.

A huddle is an altogether different beast. You only have a huddle when you need to have a huddle. It has a clear purpose, and it lasts as long as it needs to meet that goal. And because you never know quite when you might need to pull together a team of colleagues to mull over a problem or knock around a new idea, a huddle can take place at any time. No use waiting for that scheduled meeting a week on Friday, when the idea has gone cold. A huddle is a meeting for in-the-moment thinking, and you have to be ready to huddle whenever the call comes.

Remote connections

The rise of the huddle has also been influenced by the emergence of remote working, and the mobile technologies which support it. Increasing numbers of people do not spend five days a week sat in the same building as their closest colleagues. They might spend a couple of days working from home. They might be based at a different site altogether.

This has weakened the emphasis on getting big groups of people together to hold a meeting. If half a team are working somewhere else, there is no point. The physical space needed for meetings has therefore been reduced, while the focus on having the right technology so you can connect and collaborate effectively with your colleagues via their laptops, tablets and smartphones has increased.

That, in a nutshell, is how the huddle room has come about – smaller, more informal spaces for ad hoc gatherings which are equipped just as well for virtual collaboration as for face-to-face discussion.

Huddle room technology

Huddle RoomHuddle rooms are closely associated with the buzz around collaboration in business. The collaboration hype is a largely technological phenomenon. People have always worked together, but in the last few years it has been the new possibilities created for more flexible, productive collaboration through technology that has created all of the excitement. Including, of course, the opportunities to collaborate effectively over distance.

So one aspect of huddle room technology is the association with increasingly popular collaboration and team messaging software platforms. Whether you are actually in the huddle space, or connecting remotely, all colleagues want to be able to see, share and work on the same documents and materials.

Screen and file sharing are vital, as is the ability to annotate and sketch out ideas on whiteboard platforms. These are common to most collaboration apps for laptops and mobile devices. But for ease of physical collaboration in the huddle space, many businesses are using large interactive whiteboards or smart screens to plug into these apps. Groups can get hands on with sketching out ideas on the big screen, while changes made on individual devices are instantly shared.

Video conferencing is another essential element of the huddle room experience. While so-called team messaging platforms prioritise IM for convenience of ongoing interaction with colleagues as you work, when it comes to effective group collaboration, you cannot beat the face-to-face experience. Again, it is about merging the virtual with the physical, making sure remote participants can see and be seen just as if they were in the room.

Audio visual (AV) hardware has been a feature of conference rooms for many years now. But with the new emphasis on virtual collaboration, AV in the huddle space has a different set of priorities. Screens, cameras and conferencing endpoints are still a feature, but to meet the new demands, business are choosing solutions with the following features:

  • Wireless connectivity, via WiFi and or Bluetooth, so devices can plug in to huddle room hardware quickly and easily for ad hoc meetings
  • Instant access, so repeat connections are established immediately
  • Open standards for device interoperability, so any device can connect to the system. This is helps to support BYOD, for example
  • Software that supports responsive screen resolutions, so visuals are optimised on any device, large screens and small

Benefits of the huddle

One of the main arguments made in favour of improving the ways workers collaborate is that it leads to better employee engagement – and that in turn brings benefits like increased productivity, lower staff turnover, and overall better business performance. The more you encourage and involve employees in open knowledge sharing, the more innovative your encourage them to be, the more interactive work is and the more they feel a valued part of a team, the better they perform.

Collaboration platforms tick all of these boxes, and so do huddle spaces. It helps to promote a culture where, if someone has a great idea or needs help quickly, they can pull together a group of colleagues in the moment to throw it around. It encourages flexibility, freedom and trust in how and where people work.

Huddle rooms also have some more immediately practical benefits. Smaller than traditional formal meeting rooms, they free up valuable space in the office. Pretty much any nook or cranny can be turned into a huddle space – it is not the physical area that matters, it is the approach they encourage.

Finally, huddle rooms can save money. Compared to traditional conference room equipment, the hardware you need to set up an effective huddle space is less of a burden. The biggest capital outlay is likely to be a smart screen or interactive whiteboard. Other than that, one of the key points is for staff to be able to connect the laptops, notebooks and tablets they usually work from straight into the system. On top of that, cloud-based video conferencing and collaboration platforms offer excellent value for money, as well as flexibility and ease of access on any device.

Video Conferencing & Collaboration Sponsors

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”18062″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]BlueJeans Network provides cloud-based video conferencing service. It is headquartered in California, USA[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Fbluejeans%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4885″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Cisco are a global leader in Unified Communications, Collaboration and Cloud based telephony.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Fcisco%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”19594″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Crestron Electronics, Inc. specialises in multi-room audio and video collaboration solutions, digital signage solutions, and wireless and streaming technology products.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Fcrestron%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”18058″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]VisoCon GmbH provides video meeting and collaboration software. Headquarters in Graz, Austria.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Feyeson%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”18063″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Lifesize is a video and audio vendor which provides high definition video conferencing endpoints, conference room phones and a cloud-based video collaboration platform.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Flifesize%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”18064″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Polycom is an American multinational corporation that develops video, voice and content collaboration and communication technology.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Fpolycom%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”18075″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]UCi2i is a global cloud based video conferencing as a service (VCaaS) provider. Based out of London and Hong Kong.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Fuci2i%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4890″ img_size=”250″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Formerly known as Siemens, Unify is an Atos SE company. Unify is headquartered in Munich, Germany and is present in over 100 countries.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read more” style=”flat” color=”inverse” link=”url:%2Ftag%2Funify%2F|||”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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