Nov. 23, 2022 - In my last post, I covered what I called "The great huddle room reformation." But as popular as this small trend has become, I believe we're still selling the huddle room short, both literally and conceptually. While huddle rooms are quickly becoming ubiquitous – and, let's face it, a popular buzzword – they deserve more focused attention and investment than they're currently getting.
The "do it all" meeting room
The thing about huddle rooms is they're actually multipurpose in multiple ways. They get used to a lot of different types of work (which I'll address in a later post), and they accommodate many different meeting formats – meaning the number of participants, where those participants are located, and how they participate.
For example, in a huddle room meeting, we could be just two people sitting together over a table. But mostly it's a couple of people in the room, with one or seven people joining remotely. In fact, with technically no limits on how many people can join remotely, a 20-person huddle room is a real possibility. If not physically, then at least experientially – a concept that reinvents how we look at the huddle room.
An ideal huddle room needs to be more than an extension of your laptop; it needs to be immersive.
Flexible spaces deserve flexible solutions
While the huddle room is the simplest and cheapest setup, it's not considered the most flexible in terms of equipment. While larger meeting rooms are often better-equipped, many huddle rooms are still stuck with the basic diet of the screen, camera, and cables.
The question is how to make the huddle room more accommodating and comfortable. We all want to feel like we're in the same room. You need to feel like I'm looking at you when I speak, wherever I am in the room, and I want to see all of you joining in remotely, in full.
There's also an issue of equality. In-room participants naturally notice the critical nuances of small hand gestures and eye contact that are often missed by remote participants. Then there's the energy element, with excitement and other moods easily sensed in-room, but not always translating beyond. Likewise, remote participants are limited in whiteboard collaborations.
In other words, an ideal huddle room needs to be more than an extension of your laptop; it needs to be immersive.
With the costs of equipment going down significantly, plus innovation are paving the way to democratizing everyday meetings – bringing the boardroom experience to huddle rooms.
Giving huddle rooms the investment they deserve
Zoom and Microsoft Teams have essentially become the default for hybrid meetings. Now it's AV innovators' job to think about how we can complement these platforms, by bringing solutions that make hybrid meetings more lifelike, inclusive, and interactive.
True, no one's going to invest $100,000 in a huddle room, like they do for their boardroom. But, as the most used – and popular – collaborative space, huddle rooms deserve more investment. In fact, they deserve all the equipment of a boardroom. But since that's a hard sell (financially) and a major paradigm shift, the goal is to get that $100K value for far less.
AV innovation is paving the way forward
That's why solutions are already being "scaled down" to make this happen at a much lower price point, and with the smaller form factors required for huddle room spaces. For example:
- Screen management – The visual experience can be significantly improved with a videowall that can make a single screen out of four, and the reverse. While a screen management solution is currently past the price point for the average huddle room, new display perspectives are at work to get the costs down.
- USB-C and USB-C handling – With the recent EU legislation requiring all new smartphones to have a common charging port by 2024 and laptops by 2026, USB-C is the way forward. And not just for chargers, but for seamlessly connecting multiple displays, screens, cameras, and more.
- Whiteboards and additional cameras – The future of digital whiteboards is IFPs (interactive flat panels). But sophisticated touch technology with an immediate response is expensive. Creating solutions for more cost-effective multi-camera setups that capture the intricacies of each person's interactions with the whiteboard will enable a similar experience in huddle rooms. Cameras should capture the whiteboard, crop it out, and provide a separate video feed showing just the board.
With the costs of equipment going down significantly, plus new innovation, instead of selling the huddle room short, the huddle room is primed to continue its ascension. These developments and others are already paving the way to democratizing everyday meetings – bringing the boardroom experience to huddle rooms where, in my opinion, they can have a bigger impact as an essential tool for more effective work.
By Alon Turkaspa, Director, Enterprise Markets Development, Products and Solutions