With office space often at a premium, and with most offices being open plan, using smaller meeting spaces to brainstorm and have spontaneous meetings with groups of two to four people is becoming the norm. Spending a quick five minutes in a huddle room with a couple of colleagues away from the busy main office is a great way to ensure everyone is up to speed and communicating.
Working in this way is good for collaboration and should be encouraged, but you can make a huddle room even more cost-effective and useful by fitting them out with a simple, but professional, video-conferencing suite. Suddenly, what was a small space of limited use, is now a meeting room which could be used to bring disparate teams, customers or suppliers together, without the need to book out any larger meeting or conference rooms.
The advantages of a video-conferencing system are clear – you get to see the people you are talking to face to face, wherever they are in the world, allowing you to pick up on body language during negotiations in a way which isn’t possible on the phone. You also get to easily share digital content, and have no (or reduced) travel costs for meetings, but the reason video conferencing really works in huddle rooms is that the intimate space and the small number of people involved makes the conversation flow a lot more naturally.
What do I need to start?
It’s remarkably easy and inexpensive to fit out a huddle room with a video-conferencing system (and, being a small space, any extra refurbishment needed to spruce up the room should be minimal). When it comes to basic requirements, you’ll need to make sure there are power sockets in the room and that there is access to a reliable internet connection. You can see more about how to achieve this with our guide to reliable video conferencing.
You will need a display – a monitor or touchscreen, a computer or laptop, and some video-streaming software. It’s possible to just use your own work laptop to start video conferencing, but to get the best out of the experience – for you and those you are talking to – it’s good to get a dedicated system, even if it is only entry level. This modest investment means there’s no wait while you set everything up, or you to find that microphone that you knew you had in your bag somewhere, or to find where it plugs in. With these systems you just switch it on and you are ready to go.
For example, one compact form-factor, video-conferencing system perfect for smaller spaces is the Asus Hangouts Meet hardware kit. This ships with a Chromebox, 4K Ultra-HD camera, noise-cancelling speaker\microphone and touchscreen control panel. Hangouts Meet, Google’s latest video conferencing package, is incredibly easy to use and has evolved into a very useful business tool. You just email a link to the person you want to talk to and they just click that link to join the video call.
Also, because it’s so small, the Chromebox can be hidden behind a monitor, freeing up room in even the most cramped of spaces.
See also: How to get the best out of Google’s Hangouts Meet
With even a minimal investment, you can easily increase the usefulness of the spaces in your office, while also giving your team a place they can get work done quietly, potentially with anyone else in the world.
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