When most companies budget for and/or deploy audio visual technologies or collaboration technologies they limit themselves to the large Executive Boardroom, or Training Spaces, but what about that corner office that has a small table for a team to quickly meet and brainstorm? A place where they can huddle. What is a huddle room? Most simply a huddle room is a small room where teams can meet. That’s easy enough, right? The problem is, people talk about huddle rooms like they’re more complicated than that; as if huddle rooms can only be used for certain types of meetings, located only in certain types of facilities, or equipped with certain equipment. The truth is while we could argue about what might be “best” for a huddle room, no two huddle rooms will be or need to be alike. What matters most is that your huddle room should be the perfect place for a small group (roughly no more than five or six people) to “huddle.” And that word is a bit of a chameleon because huddles look different for every team. Huddle spaces have long been overlooked. But now is the time to take advantage of those under-used spaces. It’s an easy step to take if you want to keep up with the fast-paced revolution in modern work culture, as well as maximize the rising cost of commercial real estate. Smart Work Places for this Generation Millennials, and soon post-Millennials, will continue to enter and shape the workforce with their expectations of more freedom and flexibility. More businesses are using technology to make open offices and telecommuting more effective to fit those expectations. Activity Based Working (ABW) is a growing trend allowing a firm to rethink the way their work is aligned to their cultural and strategic objectives. Offering a choice in how, when, and where people work, helping them to be more effective and engaged. ABW embraces that people perform different activities and need a variety of work settings, the right technology, and a trusting and collaborative culture to be best supported. As more companies hire remote workers and collaborate across longer distances, the ability to manage, support, and collaborate with global teams will set successful companies apart from the ones that fail. Some Trends Are More Than Fads When you invest in technology, you should definitely consider the cost and the benefits. But there’s another factor to consider, whether you’re investing in physical equipment, software, or technology services: the long-term durability of your purchase. In other words, you don’t want to pour resources into a trendy, flash-in-the-pan technology fad. As more companies hire remote workers and collaborate across longer distances, the ability to manage, support, and collaborate with global teams will set successful companies apart from the ones that fail. Why Most Huddle Rooms Need a Makeover Now that you understand what a huddle room is (and isn’t) you’re probably wondering, “Okay, but I’m still not sure what a good huddle room looks like.” Research suggests that, right now, most huddle rooms lack any advanced AV technology. The typical huddle room has a few simple ingredients: basic furniture, a standard whiteboard, and maybe a flat panel display for basic presentations. Most huddle rooms don’t even have a basic conferencing system. Even fewer have technology that would allow employees to share and annotate over data wirelessly or collaborate face-to-face with remote teams via video conference. There are plenty of features common in larger meeting rooms and executive boardrooms that would be out of place in most huddle rooms. That’s not to say those features are wrong for all huddle rooms. But as it stands, most people compromise for a “good enough” huddle room. The “best of the best” AV technology only makes it into larger meeting rooms, where expectations are higher (and budgets are larger). Is “Good Enough” Really Good Enough? Even though huddle rooms have been taken for granted, that doesn’t mean they were ever ignored entirely. It’s just that there’s never been much of a need for better AV systems in smaller meeting rooms. Until now. Businesses have become more global, and employees are more concerned with flexible work environments than ever before. That’s why most huddle rooms aren’t cutting it. What was “good enough” or even more than good enough technology for a huddle room five or ten years ago just isn’t the same today. If you have a huddle room that’s not being used much, ask yourself why that is. Is there really no more use for it? Unlikely. Just imagine how your team could use that room if they had access to technology specifically designed to make the most out of the space. 3 Simple Technologies to Maximize the Huddle Space 1) Wireless Content Sharing Assuming your space already has the correctly sized video display, you’ll need a way to quickly share individual laptop, tablet, and other mobile device content. We use ClickShare from Barco in our Team Room. There’s no need to pass around a cable or search for the right converter to connect our different kinds of laptops. With Clickshare it doesn’t matter if you have MAC or Windows, there’s no need to know how to share video out of the proper port, just use your USB. Clickshare is called the “one-click wonder” for a reason: you plug into your device’s USB port, click the button, and you’re instantly sharing your own screen to the main display. Someone else wants to share? They plug in another button and you can have both users sharing on one screen! Want to share from mobile? There’s an app for that! Need to share audio or video? It is quick, easy, and completely secure. 2) Video Sound Bar Equip your huddle room with best-in-class audio, video, and screen-sharing capabilities with this all-in-one video conferencing system. Designed with smaller spaces in mind, this wall-mounted system features ultra-wideband audio and high-quality video to bring spectacular clarity to all of your communication and collaboration needs. Connect a solution like Yamaha CS-700 via USB 3.0 to your laptop or dedicated room PC and use whatever soft video or audio codec you’d like to be having a full collaborative experience. When trying to have a video call with more than one person it doesn’t make sense to have 6 people huddle around a laptop, the CS-700 with built-in camera, microphones, and speakers can turn your huddle space into a fully-blown collaboration room! 3) Room Scheduler As more companies designate and outfit multiple huddle spaces it is important to ensure all your rooms are being used in a truly effective way. People need a quick way to find an available space, and book that area for the time they need. Evoko Liso makes it easier than ever to book a room with your favorite digital calendar, or directly on the screen using your fingertip. Their room booking system presents all information elegantly on a slim screen mounted outside of the room and it actually changes information on the screen when someone walks up to it, always displaying the most relevant information. Book, end or extend a meeting directly from the clock, or use the calendar to search for other rooms based on availability, size and equipment. Thanks to the green, amber and red light aura, you can see at a glance if the room is vacant or not. No more confusion or double bookings. This solution also gives you real time data analytics to see how often the room is used, by whom and even what technology they utilized while in their meeting. The Power of Simple Solutions We’ve given a few examples of the ways we personally use advanced AV technology in our huddle spaces. Your ideal huddle room may look completely different—and that’s okay! Your huddle room should be customized to help your team meet their unique goals. It’s up to you to decide what works best for your team. But if your huddle room isn’t taking advantage of modern AV technology, you may be overlooking an opportunity to transform a forgotten room into a powerful collaboration environment, and wasting money on usable space. We hope you’ve been inspired to take another look at your smaller spaces and unused rooms. And we hope you’ve grasped just how powerful a simple upgrade can be. You can transform your unused meeting spaces into something your team will love using each day. We can help you out. Sometimes, the most effective solutions are the simplest.