It may rhyme with “cuddle,” but a huddle space is not what you might think it is. For the uninitiated, a huddle space is a relatively new innovation in office space, one that many people believed would be the meeting room of the future. The spaces were designed to replace huge boardrooms as the go-to solution for smaller, collaborative meetings in the workplace.
Then a pandemic happened. But while remote work and social distancing have changed the way people collaborate, it hasn’t meant the demise of huddle spaces. Just like everyone and everything else touched by COVID-19, huddle spaces are changing, and people are finding they still offer an excellent way to connect virtually.
Zoom has become a pervasive presence in most remote workers' lives. And until lockdown restrictions are lifted, many people also use it for social gatherings.
Pre-pandemic, a huddle space generally had a small group of four to six people in it with other people joining remotely. Post-pandemic, you’re more likely to see one or two people in a huddle room with everyone else dialing in. Why would someone want to use a huddle space instead of their living room or home office area? First, they’re the perfect way to stay socially distant from colleagues while still being able to spread out paperwork and walk around without worrying about bothering others at home. They also afford a level of privacy that some people don’t have in their home environment.
HARMAN, a leader in connected products and solutions, has been in the huddle room business for several years and understands people still need a quiet place to “get together” and collaborate. With many organizations saying they’ll continue to operate hybrid workplaces even post-pandemic, huddle rooms remain a viable, valuable solution for people to connect.
The Shifting Focus of Huddle Spaces
Where huddle spaces were once the reimagined boardrooms, it’s now time to adapt them to function as safe, clean spaces where workers can use advanced audio and video technologies to meet, inspire, and collaborate with their co-workers. Here are two key factors to keep in mind.
- Accessibility. A third of U.S. workers are now working entirely remotely and a quarter of workers report they sometimes work from home. The shift to flexible working environments has made it imperative that organizations make setting up and connecting with workers wherever they are as easy as possible. Companies should make sure their employees have the right tools at their disposal to reduce frustration. Apps that integrate with organizational software solutions like Microsoft Office 365 are helping to keep things safe by limiting the number of surfaces a user must touch.
- Inclusivity. Your collaboration solution should have the ability to capture everyone on a call, regardless of where they’re located. For instance, HARMAN’s huddle room solutions offer best-in-class audio, video, lighting, and control systems that make the collaboration experience an enjoyable and productive one.
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits huddle spaces bring to the table is a personal one: they allow people who miss the office environment to maintain a sense of “normal” during this very abnormal time. With nearly 75 percent of Americans reporting they feel anxious at least a few days per week, huddle spaces are an opportunity to ditch the PJs and sweatpants, leave the house, and head to a space that supports their work-related needs and, more importantly, bolsters their mental health.
The Future of Huddle Spaces
The workplace continues to evolve at a rapid pace. A huddle space is a flexible and useful tool that, even during a pandemic, can make employee collaboration safe and effective while saving you money at the same time. To learn more about huddle spaces and our other digital video and commercial interactive solutions, contact PTG today.