05 · 09 · 2014
Huddle Rooms Give Creativity a Place to Flourish
Welcome to the fourth edition of “The Well-Designed Workspace”, a regular blog of Infinity Group. In each edition, we’ll give you tips and trends to make your office a great place to work, create and tap into inspiration. This month’s blog focuses on the huddle room, a trend in the workplace that fits with today’s collaborative way of doing business.
Looking for a way to spark creativity, aid collaboration and fuel new ideas? Add huddle rooms to your office. Huddle rooms, also called “war rooms” and “team meeting rooms”, are small informal meeting places that encourage collaboration and private conversations. Their popularity has been growing steadily ever since they were introduced several years ago.
While your conference room might be seen as the centerpiece of many meetings, huddle rooms could be seen as the centerpiece of connection. Advances in technology like Skype, conference calls and even cell phones mean that people no longer routinely have the opportunity to collaborate face-to-face. And office interiors have changed to reflect that. Individual work spaces are smaller. They are also less private. Gone are the seating areas, couches and conference tables that many executives had in their offices. The good news is that it has resulted in more efficient workspaces. The bad news is that these workspaces don’t include a place to collaborate and they often lack the proper setting for private conversations.
Enter the huddle room. These small, private spaces are fitted for collaboration.
They offer a calm in the storm that is today’s workplace. Huddle rooms are where today’s work gets done. They are available for any employee who needs them. Instead of one central conference room, there are often several huddle rooms strategically placed around the office. The idea is that employees can pop into them to have a private conversation. Forward-thinking employers distribute huddle rooms throughout the office to encourage collaboration and give people an area where they can be private, and shielded from the buzz of the office.
Well-placed huddle rooms should be at the point of use. By that we mean they should be at the natural intersection of work areas. We once had a client who wondered why their huddle rooms weren’t being used. They were all placed in a line at the front of the office; out of the “flight path” of most employees. The lesson here is to scatter the huddle rooms throughout the office to take advantage of the natural flow of employees as they work.
What will you find in a huddle room? Movable chairs and adaptable furniture. Lounge seating. White boards or white board walls. Webinar technology. Connection points for presentations, power, internet access and the technology that brings data to your fingertips integrated right into the furniture.
Huddle rooms are used for meetings big and small. Perhaps two employees just want to collaborate without disturbing other employees. Or members of a team want to hold a brainstorming session. Or, employees want to give or attend a webinar. Need to find a quiet place for a Skype meeting with a customer out of town? Or a conference call that brings together a number of people from around the country or the world? The huddle room’s a perfect spot.
We’ve done a number of these huddle rooms and their design and fittings are as varied as the businesses that house them. Right now we’re working with a manufacturer in the eastern part of Connecticut. They moved from individual private offices to more work efficient work stations. It was a more efficient use of space, but it meant that they no longer had the spaces to collaborate, have private conversations or even have long phone calls without disturbing others in their work zones. They now have six huddle rooms for their 60 employees. They use them for webinars, conference calls, presentations and private conversations.
We’re also working with an investment company in central Connecticut that only has 38 employees, but they have four huddle rooms. They used the occasion of a move to new offices to make their space more adaptable to how people work in today’s business environment. In their old space, they had two medium sized conference rooms. In the new space we’re designing for them they’ll have one large conference room and four huddle rooms. They’ll use them for private meetings with clients as well as training for employees.
For a medical device manufacturer in Fairfield County, we’re designing five huddle rooms for their 46 employees. They are expanding their offices due to business growth and they took the opportunity to adapt their larger space to encourage more collaborative work spaces.
Huddle rooms are a productive way to bring back the human touch to business. They encourage the kind of collaboration that gives birth to new ideas. It’s one more way to make your workspace a key player in your business’ success.