Huddle rooms. You may have also heard them referred to as “conference rooms” or “meeting rooms,” but there are a few key differences.
They’re good to have in today’s open-floor-plan office spaces, especially if you have a distributed or remote team. Need to talk to clients on video calls? A huddle room is built for that too. Even if you just need a quiet space to collaborate with teammates, a huddle room can be flexible and serve that purpose. (And it’s probably more conducive to that kind of a meeting than a big boardroom would be too.)
As a company that’s built a product that’s pretty much designed for huddle rooms, we have a few tips you might find useful as you’re deciding if you need one—and how to equip it to make the space work for you.
In this post, we’re going to show you:
- What exactly a huddle room is
- How to decide if you need a huddle room
- The benefits of having a huddle room
First, let’s look at what exactly a huddle room is.
Huddle rooms are exactly what they sound like. Think of huddles in football games where you meet quickly, strategize, and break to execute on the plan.
That’s kind of what a huddle space is meant to do. It’s a room where (usually) four to six people can meet and collaborate on a project, away from the rest of the open office space.
Now, let’s look at how to furnish your huddle room. (You don’t need that much!)
What do you need in a huddle room?
Most huddle room designs will include specific kinds of furniture and technology. For one, you probably won’t find those long conference room tables here because huddle room furniture should reflect the smaller teams that’ll be using them—not only in terms of the size of the room or number of people but also in the more collaborative nature of those meetings. (Huddle rooms aren’t meant for meetings where it’s just one person talking at the other attendees for an hour straight, for instance.)
Huddle room furniture
- Comfortable chairs and (ideally round) tables
- A whiteboard or paper flip chart for writing things down for everyone to see
- Noise reduction or cancellation so that attendees have a quiet space to think and work
The nice thing about furnishing a small space is that you can be as budget-conscious (or generous) as you want. You only need a small-ish table and a few chairs, really, so that a group of people can sit and collaborate.
We’ve seen collaborative rooms where people sit in bean bags, hammocks, couches, and of course, regular desk chairs. Some businesses even give their huddle rooms different names and decorate them according to those themes.
You can decide what’s best for your business, but if you want to be collaborative and engage your employees, why not ask them what they’d prefer? Some teams might really want ergonomic chairs, while others find that they can get their creative juices flowing more easily in bean bag chairs and surrounded by bright colors.
Don’t choose heavy or bolted-down furniture that can’t be moved. Flexibility is one of the biggest benefits of having a huddle room, so try to choose furniture that can be easily moved around depending on what your team needs.
You’ll also notice that we recommended a round table. While most office and meeting room tables tend to be rectangular or square-shaped, a round table lets you fit more people (and do it more easily) without awkward corners.
Oh, and if you do have a conference phone in there, it makes it easier for everyone’s voices around the table to be picked up. (Their mic ranges are measured in diameters, after all.)
Of course, a classic in any meeting room, a whiteboard or paper flip chart can be immensely useful for team collaboration. The only thing is, they can get messy and you usually need to take a picture afterward to share with the team—and what if the writer has messy handwriting?
Huddle room technology can make your life easier here. Why not use an interactive whiteboard or digital annotations instead?
Some screen sharing software or video conferencing software have this handy feature built in—all you have to do is share a presentation or document while you’re on a call, and your team will be able to collaborate and make notes directly on the screen. It’s a perfect way to include your remote teammates, and something you can’t do with a traditional whiteboard.
Huddle room technology
- Video conferencing hardware (like huddle room cameras, microphones, and speakers, though you may not need one if everyone has a computer with built-in cameras and mics)
- A display or screen
- A webcam
- An audio system (or a mic and a speaker if you’re not fancy)
- Video conferencing software
- An iPad or tablet to control the room’s screen, camera, and other hardware
When it comes to choosing your huddle room technology, start by keeping two things in mind: it should be easy to install and easy to use.
Having a few power sources and good internet access is a given—you need to have the actual bandwidth to run video meetings in this room.
Even if your meetings won’t have more than four to six people, you should still have a big screen for presentations and screen shares. You don’t have to go too big for the screen—the size of your screen should depend on the size of your room. (It’s kind of like how when you go shopping for a TV, the salesperson typically asks you what the distance is between your couch and the TV in your living room and recommends that you don’t go above a certain size so that you don’t strain your eyes.)
(You may not need a conference phone in your huddle room, but if you do, here’s a list of some of the better conference room phones out there.)
And then there’s the software. You need some kind of program or application to run your virtual meetings.
Shameless plug time: RingCentral’s app not only lets you have video and voice-only calls, it also comes with team messaging, screen and file sharing, and a whole range of other collaboration options for whichever way your team prefers to work:
And the real perk is that RingCentral’s app, which includes video conferencing, integrates right into RingCentral Rooms™, which is a huddle room product that’s designed to help you manage these rooms, from booking the room to launching meetings.
Learn more about RingCentral Rooms.
Here’s the thing. You tend to see huddle room solutions more in offices that have open floor plans for a specific reason: because they’re so open, they usually don’t have as many enclosed spaces or dedicated collaboration rooms.
Traditional offices, on the other hand, have designated collaborative meeting rooms and conference rooms by design. If you need to reserve a room for a meeting, typically you can book it online or through whatever conference room solution your company is using.
But if you don’t have this kind of traditional office space, a “huddle” area can really come in handy because it’s a more flexible alternative to these (usually) large meeting rooms.
Here’s a quick checklist to determine whether you need a huddle room—if you say yes to any of these (or a few of these), you probably need a huddle room:
- Does your office have an open floor plan?
- Do you have a distributed team or team members who regularly work from home?
- Do you often communicate with clients through phone or video conferencing?
- Do you have teams where groups of four to five people regularly have to collaborate on projects?
Sure, open workspaces are super trendy and may not be going away anytime soon, even though they have shortcomings. But it’s becoming more and more clear that their limitations have a pretty tangible impact on our productivity.
Bottom line: collaboration is great and all, but we still need some degree of peace and quiet during the day to get actual work done.
The more open our workspaces are, the harder it is to get that peace and quiet.
Let’s dig into a few other benefits of huddle rooms. When done right, a well-designed huddle room has quite a few benefits:
1. It encourages collaboration
Think about it. You, working alone, probably appreciate having a quiet space to think and work from time to time. If you have to collaborate with one or a few other people, having this quiet space is arguably even more important. Just one person being distracted can throw off the whole group—and with every person you add to your group, you’re increasing the chances of distraction.
A huddle room can let you hide away from the ping pong games, the casual dropping-by-your-desk-to-catch-up chats, and all the other very fun—and very unproductive—goings-on in an open office.
2. It makes remote work easier
You may wonder: How would a huddle room benefit my remote teammates? They’re not even in the office.
But if you need to have a video call with them, they’d probably appreciate being able to actually hear your voice—and not all the other people sitting around you and the day-to-day noises that come with open offices.
3. It helps you use office space more efficiently
Fun fact: according to the Wall Street Journal, about 73% of meetings involve only four to six people, but 53% of conference-room space is built for meetings of seven or more.1 And though that sample size was relatively small, it’s a good reminder for us to think about how we’re using our meeting rooms. Office space (and real estate in general) is precious. Are we getting the most out of them?
4. It just improves productivity overall
There’s no getting around it. Open floor plans might be harming our productivity2. There’s less privacy—and no way to shut out the noise that’s all around them making it harder to concentrate. (Hello, sensory overload and fatigue.)
You could be using the most advanced productivity systems ever invented—but if you’re always overwhelmed and irritated by the constant interruptions by that coworker who always has an opinion about last night’s game, the best productivity tips in the world aren’t going to be of much help.
You’ve probably heard of companies building nap rooms and meditation rooms into their offices. We’d wager there’s a good reason for that. Namely, that quiet spaces help us recharge. And while a huddle room isn’t technically meant to do the same thing, it probably helps to have an enclosed space away from the rest of the office where you and your teammates can concentrate on a specific task.
Ready to design your huddle room?
Huddle rooms are more than just a trend. They have grown to become valuable assets to businesses, providing enabling environments for collaboration and creativity. With the right values and tools, these small-but-mighty spaces can bring your business massive benefits.