In the past decade, many organizations have embraced the idea of open floor plans. Ideally, an open layout fosters spontaneous collaboration and engagement among employees.
Basic sociological theory suggests that merely removing boundaries like cubicle walls should increase the likelihood of interactions among coworkers. However, Harvard Researchers published an article that found many people who work in open offices are less likely to collaborate and interact than their counterparts working in cubicles. In this study, team member face-to-face interactions decreased, and at the same time, email communication within the office increased.
If removing workspace partitions results in team members retreating into their wireless headphones, how do you ensure coworkers in open office spaces are willing to collaborate? How do you provide an environment with minimal distractions and the needed privacy for meetings?
Enter Huddle Spaces
In the past, most meetings typically followed a very predictable, serialized pattern of agenda, planned content, and then moderated discussion- more presentation than collaboration. This format lent itself well to a typical conference room setup.
Today, millennials - the largest generation currently in the workforce - prefer a more ad hoc, collaborative work style over serialized, structured meetings. They also prefer their workspaces to look and feel more like home than office - comfortable, casual gathering places take precedence over formal meeting spaces.
Huddle spaces provide comfortable, casual seating options with furniture that tends to be less formal than a typical conference room. With the goal of promoting team collaboration, huddle spaces should be equipped with the latest tech including video monitors, a video conferencing solution, and a collaboration solution, such as Mersive Solstice.
How to Turn Conference Rooms into Huddle Spaces
Large conference rooms usually run around 375 square feet and seat about 16 to 20 people. These larger rooms are suitable for large meetings; however, most conference rooms are underutilized by employees costing companies thousands of dollars each year.
Rather than letting valuable space go to waste, consider converting a conference room space into smaller huddle spaces that foster collaboration and meeting engagement.
Here are some easy to follow tips to create huddle spaces:
- Define the space
The beauty of huddle spaces is that can be created just about anywhere. Large conference rooms can be divided to create multiple smaller, casual meeting spaces. Break rooms, transition spaces, and even lobbies can be transformed into areas that support and encourage collaboration and engagement. Movable partitions such as rolling video screens can be used to create soft boundaries and still moved easily to redefine space as necessary.
- Create comfortable seating
Creating smaller seating areas provides employees a place where they can comfortably share their ideas and communicate effectively in a small group setting. Rather than a large meeting room, team members in huddle spaces can be more engaged with each other and their ideas.
A huddle room is no place for a traditional conference table and chairs. Instead, choose casual, comfortable seating like arm chairs, ottomans, and loveseats. A small, low table should also be included to hold a few devices and provide extra space for writing, if needed.
- Outfit with tech
Once your huddle space is defined, think about the technological tools that will assist with your teams' collaboration. Add video monitors that are large enough to display detailed information, a video conferencing solution to bring together employees both inside and outside the company, and other essential huddle room technology to effectively share ideas. The latest advances in wireless collaboration technology make creating connected, shareable experiences possible in any meeting or workspace environment especially huddle spaces.
If open floor plans result in team members closing themselves off to collaboration, huddle spaces offer a cost-effective, versatile, and simple solution to re-engage your employees. If you are looking for some inspiration on how to design huddle rooms at your organization, check out these different styles and ideas. The exact layout of your huddle space may vary from room to room and change over time. Always be open to redefining the space to suit the needs of your team members and your organization.
Mersive’s Solstice wireless collaboration solution boosts productivity by putting content at the center of the meeting experience. Participants are more engaged because Solstice’s intuitive, software-based interface makes it easy for any number of users to share content from any device. Moreover, corporations and universities can securely deploy the solution across locations and centrally manage them from a single console.