Office spaces have changed substantially since the signature cubicles of the 1980s. Nowadays they are creative spaces that invite both productivity and individualism.
Amongst other office trends, huddle rooms have become immensely popular in the modern workplace. Many businesses are using huddle rooms to leverage productivity in small teams; in fact, more flexible workplaces are part of what millennials expect.
But how to create the perfect huddle room for your workplace? Let's begin with some basics.
A huddle room is a small area of an office where teammates get together to discuss issues and ideas. Its purpose is to quickly gather a team, so it must be a convenient and strategic room that is purposely built and designed for productivity.
Its name originates from American Football. During the game, teammates will get together for a ‘huddle’ to discuss their strategy and talk about their next moves.
What happens in huddle rooms is quite similar, although the huddle is typically a bit longer and there is (hopefully) a lot less shouting!
The ideal huddle room size is one that can comfortably accommodate 4-6 people, who are part of a team within a business. Its appearance is basically that of a conference room, but with some video technology. It’s a place where creativity, productivity and fun is embodied. A fun and inspiring huddle room design should be prioritized for all offices.
Wainhouse Research has done quite a lot of study into the usefulness of huddle rooms, and they estimate that 30-50 million huddle rooms are in existence across the world today.
Huddle rooms are the new board rooms. They are creative spaces that allow employees to collaborate as a team. They improve productivity, as they are separate rooms with their own atmosphere, and are stimulating for employees.
They’re becoming more and more commonplace in offices all over the world; and will soon be the expectation. So make sure that you stay ahead of the trend – your employees will appreciate it! Huddle rooms are key to business collaboration!
If you don’t already have small rooms in your office, you’ll need to create this space. You don’t need a whole new building or to do some major renovations to fit a huddle room – it’s quite easy to fit one either independently or with the help of a carpenter!
One option is to purchase an acoustic work pod. There are basically ready-built ‘pods’ with tables and chairs in them. The advantages of these pods are that they are quick and easy to set up, they come with soundproofing, and they create an instant separate space from your office.
The major disadvantage of acoustic work pods is that they are a lot harder to customize – you’ve got the tables and chairs installed, but that’s pretty much all that you can have.
If you’ve got the budget, a more feasible option could be to get a custom-built pod for your office. That way you know that you have the equipment in it that you as an office space want and need.
Another good option would be to partition an area of the office and get a carpenter to help you make walls and an entrance. This is a little more complex and you would need to soundproof and decorate the space – but it also means that you can have the huddle room completely as you like it.
Of course, if you don’t have the budget, it’s completely feasible to create your own DIY huddle room with partitions. The downsides of this are that it’s likely to not be soundproofed very well and the walls may not be able to accommodate anything being hung on them. Power sockets may also be limited. Plus, if it’s not done by a professional, there is always a risk of things collapsing – be sure to use high-quality materials if you go down this route!
Stick to what is best for your company and budget. You can always opt for DIY initially and something more professional down the line after you see the amazing benefits of huddle rooms.
If you have an office with spare rooms, this is easy – in the room, of course!
If you don’t have a room on hand, you can choose exactly where you want your huddle room to be created. Obviously, some areas (like corners) are more favorable when it comes to the cost of materials or carpentry. You’ll want at least one solid wall to hang an interactive display on.
As all offices are different, it’s hard to suggest just one space that will suit your huddle room. We would recommend doing a survey amongst colleagues that will use it as well – they’ll be a lot more inclined to think of a space positively if they had a hand in creating it!
As with all rooms, it’s best to decorate first while you still have a shell of a building! Think about bringing something different to the office, and make a unique area for color and creativity.
You could have your huddle room follow a theme related to your brand – for example, if you are a fruit producer, your huddle space design could involve having a green ‘kiwi room’ or a yellow ‘banana room’. It’s important to have a classy blend of colors that don’t clash and aren’t too busy – and aren’t going to hurt anyone’s eyes as they work!
If you have the budget, you may want to get a professional interior designer and decorator to help with this phase. If not, head down to your nearest hardware store, get some paint samples and do an office poll!
Once your huddle room has been decorated efficiently, it’s time to do some designing. You could think about putting your brand logo or a motto on one of the walls to boost morale and encourage productivity.
As mentioned before, your huddle room design could involve naming each room and giving them a theme and then connecting all huddle rooms with this theme. Just think about whatever will inspire your colleagues!
Decorating and designing are both parts of making a creative workspace, which could include things like using sustainable materials, or just really thinking about the color and how that particular hue enhances people’s moods.
One of the biggest things to consider when creating a huddle room is soundproofing. If you’re buying a pod, it will have some degree of soundproofing – but if your huddle room is a DIY job then you’ll need to soundproof it yourself.
Soundproofing is pretty essential because you’ll want to keep external noises out, to keep concentration and productivity at a high, and make sure that whatever is being discussed in the huddle room stays in the huddle room.
To soundproof a room, you’ll need to look for things that absorb noise. These could be acoustic panels, pictures, plants (real or fake!) or upholstered furniture.
It’s also a great idea to create a door, which gives workers a sense of privacy.
Generally, employees will bring in their own devices: like laptops, chargers and mobile phones. One of the best things to have in a huddle room is an interactive display that is connected to everyone’s devices.
Interactive displays work much better than other devices because they can directly connect to your employees' devices – and to the internet and other apps – as well as offering a program where they can be used as a whiteboard.
You’ll want to double-check the WiFi connection, and invest in a separate router if necessary – great WiFi is essential for your huddle room. There should also be enough power sources for two or more devices for five to six people. Generally, one plug (for a computer) and one USB socket (for a phone) would suffice. If you have the budget, wireless charging could also be an option!
You’ll want high-quality tables and comfortable chairs for your huddle room; which will need to be of the highest possible quality. You want your employees to feel like they’re going somewhere comfortable when they head to the huddle room – not somewhere where the chairs will break their back!
It’s also a good idea to make sure that the tables are both the right height and are big enough to work creatively on. In the huddle room, you’ll want to make mind maps, sketch out ideas, and spread papers out to look at the big picture and assess problems from a birds-eye view.
The hardware you use in the huddle room should be twinned with great software. Many programs can be added directly onto your interactive display.
Some programs that you should think about making use of are:
Finally, it’s time to accessorize your huddle room! As well as having technology items, you might want to include accessories like post-its and clipboards, to keep some notes current and more visual.
If you have a theme to the room, you could add colored cushions, beanbags and pictures (which also help with soundproofing!) to go with it.
When it comes to art in the workplace, it’s a good idea to choose bright, happy paintings that give a positive mood. Also, consider asking your employees what kind of artwork they would like to see in your huddle room – the University of Exeter has concluded after research that employees who have a say in the design of the workplace are 32% more productive.
You could also think about having a huddle room mascot or a creative table centerpiece – anything that makes the room fun!
Hold your first meeting!
Be sure to ask for feedback from your employees after your first huddle room session, and act on it quickly. Make sure that they are completely happy with the space and that it is somewhere that they will want to return to!
Creating your first huddle room sounds like a bit of a daunting task, but it need not be. You’ll easily have a creative space in no time following these simple steps – and, as long as you’re prepared to DIY a bit, it is quite cost-effective as well. With this simple how-to list, you’ll be enjoying all of the benefits of huddle rooms in no time!