Over the last five to 10 years, the traditional office has given way to a more transient work environment. The growing popularity of flexible working coupled with a mobile, dispersed workforce has decreased the need for separate offices and desk spaces, with businesses now considering alternatives, including hot-desks in open-office environments.
With many offices transitioning to an open floor plan, it’s more important than ever to have designated collaboration spaces free from noise and distractions. As such, the concept of smaller meeting spaces – or ‘huddle’ rooms – was born. Creating areas for small groups of three to five people and virtual teams to meet and work together on the fly is an inexpensive and space-saving way forward.
Businesses of all sizes and industries are moving to this model. In fact, Frost & Sullivan estimates that there are currently 30 million huddle rooms worldwide. Moreover, huddle rooms are arguably the most productive rooms in the building as they provide privacy in collaborative environments and require little physical space (up to 10 – 12sqm).
What’s Driving the Need for New Office Space Environments?
While open-space floor plans are trendy and the desire to create more collaborative, flexible workplaces is strong, cost is essentially an underlying factor driving the increase in open offices. Businesses simply cannot afford to waste office space and employee productivity. With the increase in flexible working, companies are finding they require less square footage per employee in the physical office space. A recent study estimated that flexible working could generate workstation savings of £1.1 billion for the UK economy. This could be a pretty big draw for companies to consider when investing in new workspace environments.
In addition to providing a flexible meeting space in open floor plans, the huddle room can introduce many benefits to an organisation including greater culture fluidity and collaboration as people sit closer together. Also, huddle rooms are very attractive to millennials, who, by 2020, will make up half the global workforce and expect a collaborative culture.
Ensuring ROI in Huddle Rooms
First and foremost, ensuring a good return on your investment in huddle rooms comes down to space optimisation. This includes the facilities team creating a huddle room to avoid wasted space in the open plan environment and to management building a culture within an organisation to ensure all spaces are optimised for different requirements.
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Traditionally, a huddle room would have just been equipped with two to four seats and a telephone, to be used for a one-to-one meeting or a private phone call. However, many companies are extending the audio and video conferencing technology beyond the boardroom and executive suite to smaller meeting spaces. By ensuring the technical functionality and capability is the same across all rooms, they can be used for all types of meetings, from internal brainstorms to senior management strategy sessions to customer facing collaborations, keeping the utilisation as high as possible in every meeting space.
Video conferencing has emerged as an essential tool for many companies’ communication and collaboration strategies. The cost, ease of use, flexibility and scalability of video conferencing opens the door to a wide range of new use models that meet the needs of today’s dynamic work environments.
However, according to the same report by Frost & Sullivan, less than 5 percent of the 30 million huddle rooms worldwide are video-enabled. This could be due to several factors, including high acquisition and operating costs of the technology solutions, as well as education – many companies are simply not aware of what is possible. Businesses are willing to pay for an increase in video conferencing users but are unlikely to invest in more IT resources to support the solution. A SaaS model can help break that barrier and make it easier to deploy and manage operating costs.
A cloud-based video conferencing solution dramatically decreases the time to deploy and manage the solution and also decreases the cost for both IT departments and end users. An all-in-one cloud collaboration solution with the audio web, video conferencing and group chat from a single, trusted provider gives users an easy-to-use, consistent communication experience across platforms and devices to achieve maximum productivity and collaboration, despite their location. For the IT administrator, a fully integrated system, including the actual hardware device, software, service and support means less time spent on deployment, training and management, which translates into a lower total cost of ownership.