A major trend in corporate workplace design is the concept of the huddle space—a small meeting space designed specifically to accommodate the sort of impromptu social learning and collaboration activities that corporations are looking for. Of course, to make these rooms effective, you need effective meeting room technology. However, it’s not unusual for meeting room technology to be categorized as discretionary—and therefore easily eliminated from the budget. That said, the entire goal of huddle spaces (and the technology that drives them) is to increase the utilization of available meeting space and truly save money in the long term both by cutting costs and by increasing productivity.
Here are six ways that effective meeting room technology can improve your business:
- Optimize floor space – The second highest cost for most organizations is real estate. That is why the ability to better use floor space can result in significant cost savings. Having well-equipped huddle spaces allows organizations to provide more spaces for collaboration that are right-sized for the types of meetings going on. This means less meetings where three people are sitting in a large conference room because it was the only space available. Huddle spaces achieve this by having exactly the technology employees need. They can walk in, pull a retractable cable from an AV table box and connect it to their laptop. By providing simple, easy-to-deploy automation in the space, the room can react to the cable being plugged in. All of the technology in the room will “wake up” when the cable is connected, allowing the employees to quickly get their meeting started.
- Innovation Empowerment – Because there are now more collaboration spaces, it is easier for employees to sit down immediately and have a needed conversation. Scheduling panels can be mounted outside conference rooms, making it a simple task to find an open space. The scheduling panel can even check other, similarly-sized rooms in the area and recommend an available room. By lowering the barriers required to connect with other employees on a moment’s notice, organizations can create an ideal setting for brainstorming. Good ideas are always less likely to die when sharing can happen at any time with anyone.
- Video conferencing in more spaces – For true idea sharing to happen in a modern, global organization, it must be possible for that sharing to happen over distance, which requires video conferencing. It’s well known that video conferencing allows for effective communication over distances, significantly reducing travel expenditures. However, the traditional need for expensive video teleconferencing (VTC) systems has made the ability to have conferencing in a large number of meeting spaces cost prohibitive. Over the years, this resulted in strange VTC-sharing systems and other methods to share equipment and reduce costs. However, with the rise of popular web conferencing apps like Skype, organizations no longer need to invest in video conferencing codecs. By equipping huddle spaces with low-cost, high-quality web conferencing cameras and providing automated web conferencing mixers and boundary mics for larger conferencing rooms, it is now financially possible to install video conferencing in all your conference rooms.
- Centralized Support – One of the most important, if often overlooked factors affective overall ROI for a technology investment is ease of support and management. There is a significant, measurable cost of going room to room supporting PC’s and other equipment. By employing powerful, yet easy-to-use resource management software, all components in a huddle space AV system can be remotely monitored and maintained. And because these rooms are designed to be simple systems with only the equipment users need to have fast impromptu meetings—meaning they rarely even have a room PC—they can significantly reduce support costs over systems in larger spaces. Larger spaces and more complex equipment is still required in some spaces, but adding huddle spaces can provide a better balance of technology vs. need and increase the return on the technological investment.
- Better workspace balance and higher employee retention – Plain and simple, people like working together. Numerous studies prove this. However, studies also show that employees like things quiet when they need to work alone, and productivity goes down when there are distractions in these areas. By providing the tools and creating the environments that foster better collaborative activity among employees that occurs away from private work environments, organizations can help employees feel part of a team, fostering a sense of belonging where they make visible contributions, while at the same time eliminating stress on employees who need to work on solo projects. Again, studies show that employees that feel connected and less stressed are more inclined to stay where they are.
- Improved Team performance – All of the other outcomes we’ve mentioned ultimately has an effect on the bottom line. When employees feel empowered and connected and are on board with the same goal, they work harder to achieve it. At the end of the day, this affects the performance of the individual and the overall team.
It all boils down to providing the right tools to connect employees. Done right, this can affect both hard costs and soft benefits, from increased collaboration to reduced travel costs, performance, innovation and employee retention. For more information on how huddle spaces can affect your organization, check out our white paper – Collaboration Technology in Small Spaces.
Have experience or tips on making collaboration spaces more effective? Let us know in the comments.