When it comes to workspace design and long term productivity, it’s a fact – the open plan office concept has failed. There are benefits of course. If there weren’t, the idea wouldn’t have become a trend that saw around 70 percent of offices in the USA having low or no partitions by 2017.
The most attractive benefit is the fact that it is affordable. It means zero walls, and often not even individual desks, so of course, it would be less costly.
The other big draw is that collaboration, and therefore innovation, is supposedly a natural side effect of being in the same space together all the time.
But a new Harvard study published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B journal showed that all that forced interaction caused people to withdraw from each other and instead communicate over email.
It also apparently resulted in a significant drop in productivity.
Introducing huddle rooms
Considering that people tend to avoid each other in the open plan office environment, meetings have become one of the most important interactions in the workplace. Thus, so many companies responded by building conference rooms.
One large meeting space equipped with all the latest equipment and technology designed to impress everyone who steps into your office space. But these can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
How do you take advantage of the cost saving offered by open office plans but still create meeting spaces that are accessible, fully equipped for all forms of collaboration and don’t cost an arm and a leg?
There is one solution that satisfies all of those requirements and more. They are known as huddle rooms, and they’re already replacing the stuffy meeting rooms of days gone by.
What are huddle rooms exactly?
In a nutshell, huddle rooms are small meeting areas. They usually accommodate up to 2-6 people. They're similar to compact conference rooms and come with all of the technology you’d expect to see in a designated meeting zone.
This includes display monitors, video cameras and other essential conferencing equipment. And you get all of this at a fraction of the cost of a conference room that offers the same features.
These huddle rooms may be small, but they’re packed with potential. Not only is the reduced cost ideal, but they also offer the type of intimate meeting space that fits perfectly with workers caught up in the breakneck pace of the modern business environment.
They’re designed to support impromptu meetings between everyone from in-office employees and clients to overseas shareholders and remote workers.
And they’re doing the job perfectly.
Well known benefits of a huddle room
Thanks to soundproofing, huddle rooms provide a completely private and intimate space where colleagues can share ideas and discuss projects without the scrutiny of others. They are the ultimate tool in creating a versatile office space.
Huddle rooms are a relaxed and intimate environment and yet they usually don’t need to be booked days ahead of time. The less formal atmosphere allows for workers who might otherwise be intimidated by an official conference room to relax and participate in the idea creation process.
Designing your own huddle room
Even if your office is already set up, huddle room design is not a complicated thing. The Executive Room from Zenbooth is built to easily accommodate up to 4 people. This portable solution features electrical and phone outlets as well as fast-charging USB ports.
An added bonus are the 3.5” thick acoustic walls. This insulation, made from recycled denim, means that outside noise from colleagues won’t disturb those using the huddle room.
With a shatterproof plexiglass ceiling and twin high powered ventilation fans activated by occupancy sensors keeping the interior fresh and cool it’s like stepping outside to collaborate on projects away.
Common huddle room furniture and features
The furniture you decide for your huddle room will mostly depend on how much space you have to work with. The basic idea is that the space needs to be as versatile as possible. Some standard equipment you might consider include:
- A desk or table for people to sit around, lay out their paperwork or set up laptops.
- A video conferencing solution. This doesn’t need to be a complex or expensive set up when a program like Skype combined with high-quality sound and visual equipment that includes microphones and cameras will do the job perfectly.
- TV, LCD, LED and/or projector screen. Whether you plan on using your huddle room for nothing but teleconferences or as a venue to share presentations with your project teams, you’re going to need at least one digital screen
- An interactive or regular whiteboard. When you’re collaborating and sharing ideas, you need to record and keep track of them. Whiteboards are a perfect solution that everyone can see simultaneously.
- Chairs are optional, but at least one or two collapsible ones are a good idea. Otherwise, you’ll need to drag chairs from your desk to the huddle room every time you plan a meeting that will last longer than usual.
If you think your company would benefit from having a well-sized, portable meeting space, contact Zenbooth and ask about our Executive Room and Executive Booth models. You can also read what our customers are saying about our product here.