Business
5 min read

Office essentials: the Huddle Room

Simone Hjorth
November 8th, 2018

In this new series, Airtame explores the different types of meeting rooms every well-functioning office needs. First up, the much hyped and misunderstood ‘Huddle room’

As much as you try to prepare, sometimes, meetings are messy and ad-hoc. We even wrote a 50-step guide to better business meeting etiquette because of how often meetings can quickly go awry.

Then there’s the kind of ad-hoc meetings where you don’t feel the need to book ahead people or meeting room, for a quick brainstorm or a small team status update on the fly, where do such impromptu sessions take place?

Introducing the huddle room. It might just be the thing for you.

Huddle rooms are:

  • Essential for open and collaborative workspaces
  • Easy to build
  • Not for everyone (team of developers? Perhaps not for you)

There’s persistent talk around the huddle room, or huddle space, and seeing as they’re so flexible and cater to many different situations, they’re difficult to pin down. This is our take on what huddle rooms are, and how to make the most out of them.

What is a huddle room?

Before we go to the world of meetings, let’s quickly look at the world of football (American, not the European). In football, players assemble for a quick session called a “huddle”. When they “huddle up”, it means they’re either strategizing, motivating or celebrating after a win.

These quick on-field meetings are an essential part of the game, and the same goes for office environments where people need to meet for a brief chat.

A huddle room is a smaller, more informal meeting space that provides a comfortable, secluded area for teams to meet, brainstorm or catch up easily. It’s for workgroups and colleagues who don’t necessarily need to book a room but still want to recap face-to-face.

Just like in football, these sort of office huddle-ups occur often, yet not many office spaces have the appropriate settings to accommodate them. In an open office space, most people will refrain from meeting at each other’s desk because it’s a distraction to the rest of the team and not private at all.

In fact, face-to-face time decreases by around 70 percent in open floor plans, a recent Harvard study suggests. That doesn’t mean it’s not a necessity anymore, and that’s where huddle rooms can prove their worth. That face-to-face time you were missing? Perfect for the huddle room.

Besides some much-needed face-to-face time, huddle rooms can be used for:

  • Quick brainstorm sessions
  • Daily team stand-ups
  • Design reviews
  • Alignment meetings
  • Informal 1:1
  • Project team meetings

The key elements of huddle rooms

There’s no fixed version of the huddle room, its design or outfit, but there are some key elements that define them.

Small

They can typically accommodate no more than five people, allowing for much more intimacy. Because they’re so small, they can make use of otherwise forgotten spaces, which makes them highly cost-effective.

User-friendly

A huddle room is supposed to be a space for on-the-fly interactions and quick meet-ups rather than time-consuming setups. Your huddle rooms should have equipment that is easy to use for anyone at any time, and with instructions that are plainly visible.

Informal

Distractions and noise are pretty common in most offices, but especially the ones with an open floor plan. A quiet, private space for smaller groups to meet puts an end to that problem. Sounds great? Sounds like a huddle room!

Flexible

No matter the objective, Huddle rooms should be outfitted to support any sort of on the fly team objective. That means huddle rooms can be equipped with a range of easy-to-use equipment and technology for presenting, sharing and remote video conferencing.

Ready to go

Huddle rooms are not designed for long meetings that occupy the space for the entirety of the day. And where other, full-scale conference spaces may be booked for longer, drawn-out endeavors, huddle rooms should remain ‘unbookable’.

We suggest introducing a time limit instead, e.g. an hour per room – or perhaps even less. Every time the clock reaches a full hour, say, other workers will know that the huddle room is available.

How to set up successful huddle rooms

Huddle rooms should be used for on-the-fly collaboration, ideation and less objective-driven sessions. To facilitate that, we recommend introducing relatively neutral surroundings. Keep it simple. This means less distracting surroundings with signage, furnishing and other accessories that won’t cause too much of a fuss.

We think a huddle room should be able to accommodate no more than five people in total, and four is even better. Just don’t think of huddle rooms as scaled-down conference rooms, you’ll risk losing the intimacy and spontaneousness that huddle rooms invite. Plus, consider the sound level, and respect your fellow staff members that might be within earshot.

To set a basic standard, outfit the huddle room with a small table. You need a place for your notebooks and laptops, in any case, right? Then a few chairs for as many people as you intend to use the space. Your employees might prefer standing but they should all have the possibility of sitting down for longer meetings. Want even more flexibility? Choose the kind of chairs that have wheels.

A whiteboard or flipchart can help you visualize your amazing ideas. Just don’t go overboard with the outfit of the room. It needs to be simple enough that the next person in line won’t waste any time setting it up after you.

Huddle room technology

Huddle rooms typically cost less to equip than full-scale meeting rooms, and that’s why you’ll need budget-friendly tech options that match the laidback, casual collaboration.

Airtame 2 a cost-effective collaboration tool that makes the most out of screens, whether you’re using them for presenting or they’re on standby. It’s an easy, cable-free solution that takes away the hassle of presenting and thereby adds a better flow in productivity.

It’s a BYOD (bring your own device) solution, which means that no matter what device or operating system you or your guests prefer, Airtame 2 has got your back. The cloud-based platform allows for easy management and maintenance of devices, so you don’t have to walk from huddle room to huddle room to perform updates.

You’ll also need a smaller projector or TV screen broadcast presentations. Mount the big screen to save some space, and give the huddle room a marginally more ‘closed-off’ quality.

Whether you need video conferencing tools is up to your organization and the kind of tasks you’re most likely to perform in your huddle rooms. If it’s mostly internal project collaboration, then you probably won’t need AV equipment.

Are huddle rooms for you?

Huddle rooms are in it to win it. These collaboration-fostering meeting spaces could result in increased productivity and less wasted space in your office, but they certainly aren’t for everyone.

In an already hectic and open work environment, you run the risk of removing the only pockets of solace and quiet you might have. And you’ll still have your conference rooms. Huddle rooms aren’t here to replace them, as it doesn’t make sense to outfit them the same way.

Huddle rooms are for all those in-between meetings you need where a conference room is too big and better for larger presentations. Huddle rooms are particularly great for big, open and under-populated environments as well as heavily compartmentalized office spaces.

In all likelihood, managers and employees that take the initiative to utilize the huddle space are likely to also be quick and adept adopters of new technology. They need it to work right now, in the simplest and smartest way possible to get the most out of everyone’s time.

Huddle rooms come in all forms, and many shapes and sizes, but bottom line is that they’re great for teamwork. If you run a floor of developers, perhaps huddle rooms would be redundant. If you have a bunch of designers, marketers and informal visits from externals, huddle rooms could be a great remedy to the typically stifling and stiff meeting room.

Ready to start building a huddle room, and want to kit it out with Airtame? Book a call with our customer success team
Simone Hjorth
My job is to put together words in a delightful, entertaining, and sometimes moving way. 1 part techno enthusiast, 2 parts cat lover, 3 parts creative writer. Too many parts?