What is the “huddle room" and why should you care?

April 18, 2018

At Huddly, we are experts in video conferencing, with a focus on providing great video “huddle rooms”. Our Huddly conference cameras were specifically designed to meet the unique technological requirements of these spaces. But what is a “huddle room”? And why should you care? Grab a cup of coffee and we’ll tell you all about it.

There is plenty of hype around the “huddle room” these days and it’s easy to be confused as to what huddle room collaboration actually means. In essence, huddle rooms (also referred to as huddle spaces) are a smarter way to design office space to enable more efficient and productive meetings.

So, what is a huddle room?

Huddle rooms are strategically small work spaces and meeting areas, typically for groups of four to six people, equipped with video, audio and display system technologies and used as informal spaces for ad-hoc and agile collaboration – workflows that are at the core of today’s digital workplace.

Huddle room setup

Size matters

Huddle rooms will, of course, vary in size depending on what space you have available in the office, but they are typically around 10x10ft – 12x12ft, a perfect fit for groups of 4-6 people. Incidentally, this number corresponds with research on the optimum number of people in a team (we recently went into this in more depth in our blog post on “how to build predictably more successful teams“, which we would encourage you to take a look at).

Use case

Huddle rooms are used for fast-paced ideation and interaction, with all participants involved and engaged. More often than not, these meetings are informal and ad-hoc, usually with at least one participant joining remotely.

Arrangement and set-up

Typically, a huddle room will have one central desk space, with 4-6 chairs depending on the size. Other arrangements could include a more relaxed ‘lounge seating’ set-up with sofas or a standing desk and stools. A minimum of one display/monitor is a necessity, along with plug-and-play audio and a high-definition, wide angle video camera (sorry, I had to do it) at eye level as part of an all-in-one conferencing device or separate peripherals that work together. The key requirement here, as we will go on to discuss later, is seamless interoperability – that is to say, everything must work together with no hurdles for the user.

A good huddle room should also include additional components like whiteboards, flipcharts and scrum boards to capture all those fantastic ideas.

Services

Cloud-based conferencing services are the perfect fit for these rooms thanks to their flexibility, ease of use and scalability.

Cost

Options abound and there is no one-size-fits all, but each room can cost anywhere between $2k-$5k, according to Frost and Sullivan’s excellent 2018 huddle room market report.

The benefits?

When designed and implemented correctly, video-enabled huddle rooms promise organizations a host of benefits, including;

  • Increased productivity through streamlined workflows
  • More meeting spaces per square foot
  • Increased employee satisfaction and subsequent retention
  • Increased engagement of remote workers

Given these potential benefits that come with technology-enabled huddle spaces, it’s no surprise that organizations large and small are excited about them. But in order for you to get the most out of these spaces, it’s vital to first understand the factors that are driving their adoption.

Huddle room

Convergent global trends driving huddle room adoption

We at Huddly may specialise in intelligence, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize the way we work is undergoing a massive transformation, along with our expectations and requirements of the technology that enable it.

There are multiple global trends in the workplace that are now converging, with technology-enabled huddle spaces increasingly viewed as the solution to the challenges facing corporation as digital transformation becomes a concrete reality.

The huddle room may be the solution, but what is the problem?

In this post, we will take a look at some of the trends driving the rise in popularity of video-enabled huddle rooms, including, but not limited to:

  • The rise of the millennials
  • The remote worker revolution
  • The new science of high-performing teams
  • New best practice for effective meetings

The rise of the millennials

The Pew Research Center defines “millennials” as the generation born between 1981 and 1996, meaning anyone currently between the ages of 22 and 37. According to an April 2018 report by Pew, millennials are currently the largest cohort of the U.S. labor force at 35%, with the Brookings Institute forecasting that millennials could make up as much as 75% of that number by 2025.

millenials in the labor force 2016

Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, authors of the Brookings Institute report mentioned above, conclude that “the distinctive and widely shared attitudes and beliefs of this generation will slowly, but surely, reshape corporations in its image and end the confrontational and bottom-line oriented world that baby boomers and Gen-Xers have created”.

Millennials have very different expectations of their work life than the generations that preceded them. After all, this is the generation that can barely remember life before the internet, they have grown up with cell phones and internet-connected devices at their fingertips at all times. With the rise of mobile, cloud and social, millennials are accustomed to technology giving them flexibility and the ability to instantly connect with people regardless of their location. They don’t delineate boundaries between their digital, physical, work and private identities in the same way as their more mature colleagues. In short, millennials expect to be permanently connected to the digital sphere and for technology to support the way they want to work and live.

What they are not used to are the restrictions that a traditional, legacy enterprise IT department imposes on what technology they can use and the way they want to use it. Choosing the right A/V set up and collaboration services to provide employees with flexibility is crucial.

They also hold very different values with regards to corporate culture to earlier generations, with an emphasis on a desire for work environments that prioritizes the health and happiness of its workers – even if it means accepting a lower salary. In an MIT Sloan Management Review paper from 2007, 3 different studies are cited as coming to the same conclusion – namely that “the single most powerful factor in employee job satisfaction was how they feel about the effectiveness of the meetings he or she attends; negative feelings were exacerbated as the amount of time spent in meetings increased. Employees who attend a rash of bad meetings are stressed, dissatisfied with their jobs and more predisposed to leave.”

The remote worker revolution

According to a 2017 report by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 115% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce. This trend is expected to rise, with the aforementioned F&S report forecasting that by the year 2022, 35% of workers will access office networks remotely. Our partner Bluejeans’ 2015 “State of the Modern Meeting” report states that over 25% of meetings take place with one or more remote participants a number that continues to grow. Throw F&S’ expectation that 82% of network traffic will be video by 2022 and it seems logical that video collaboration, and the huddle rooms that will enable best practice workflow, will only become more crucial to any healthy organization in the year to come.

Remote worker, Huddly GO

The new science of high-performing teams

Research shows that when teams are small (between 4 and 7) and have more frequent and natural conversations, they are predictably more productive and successful. You can read more about it in our free downloadable whitepaper here). 

The way we have meetings is changing

The mind-numbing experience of sitting through meetings that seem to never end is something I’m sure we can all relate to. A recent study by project management specialists Atlassian states that the average employee in the U.S. attends 62 meetings a month — only about half of which they considered productive. 

In 2017, the Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries and found that 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work, 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient, 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking and 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.

Now, with the widespread of digital collaboration tools, along with the other global trends described above, meetings are becoming increasingly agile and interactive, yielding far more productive results than in the past.

Conclusion

Put simply, huddle rooms are about increasing productivity – with remote work becoming more prevalent, organizations need fewer desks at the office and more video-enabled meeting spaces for small groups. Well-equipped huddle rooms are an excellent solution to many of the challenges that are facing organizations. 

In the next article in this series, we will be looking at how to optimise your environment to get the most out of your huddle rooms – both in terms of the physical space and your digital eco-system.


 As ever, thank you for reading, and don’t forget to have a look at huddly.com.

While you’re here, feel free to subscribe to our blog to hear the latest about Huddly technology, fascinating interviews with the people and companies that inspire us and keep up to date with the latest trends and insights in video collaboration.

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Vebjørn
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