There are lots of studies on how to make your company (and office environment) more productive. A quick scan reveals many of them talk about open office layouts, lots of natural light, work team size, flexible work schedules, etc. These research studies point to more companies having less traditional office spaces and conference rooms, and more team oriented meeting spaces, such as huddle rooms.
We've talked about huddle rooms before, and there are a growing number products specifically built for them within video conferencing. It's all about getting those products into a more compact size - because the purpose of work space is have enough room to work, and our technology should help us do that, not get in the way.
When we look at the modern huddle room, there are specific challenges from a video conferencing standpoint - the most obvious has to do with "off camera" distractions, including movement and noise. It's distracting because movement (along with changes to our visual reference point) is a hard coded, evolutionary thing. There's a reason why we quickly turn our heads to see something that has moved in the "corner of our eye" - because our survival depended on it. Also, our hearing has evolved to allow us to hear everything around us, and we are attune to listening for things we can't see, specifically subtle sounds.
With that in mind, a little planning can make all the difference between have a huddle room perfect for video conferencing (mostly from distractions) and having one which is completely worthless for anyone not in the room.
Huddle Room Tip #1: Use a wide angle camera.
Keeping distractions at a minimum is your first goal, one of the easiest ways to do that is make sure the whole huddle space is covered within the view of the camera. Huddle rooms don't require pan (left-right movement of the camera), tilt (up-down movement of the camera) or zoom. These features are more necessary in larger meeting spaces. What is important is getting everyone within the view of the camera. Since more huddle rooms are small, that can be easily accomplished with a wide angle camera featuring a field of view (FOV) equal to or greater than 90 degrees.
Huddle Room Tip #2: Don't skimp on your tabletop audio
We've mentioned this before, but it become very important in huddle rooms, you need a high-quality video conferencing speakerphone. You want the basics covered like ease of use, quality sound, volume controls, etc. - but the important difference is in the integrated microphones. You need 360 degree coverage (because people could be sitting anywhere in the huddle room) and microphones optimized for voice communications. The other features to look for are noise reduction and cancellation filtering, both are important within open spaces - you want the voices of the people within a few feet, not those from across the room. Also, depending on your use, look for integrated Voice-over-IP (VoIP) capabilities is you want the huddle space to double as standard conferencing call space.
Huddle Room Tip #3: Size your display properly
We've seen huddle rooms in all sizes and shape, but what is common, is the need to size the display appropriately for the space. First, it needs to be big enough to visualize any information you are sharing from the most common "sitting" position. If most of your in-room participants are going to be within 8 to 10 feet, you don't need a display over 55" - it really is overkill. And if you plan to use dual monitors, they can even be smaller displays. Bigger is not always better - you want effective. Be prepared to use a smaller display than you would in conference rooms.
Huddle Room Tip #4: Look into All-in-One technology
Today, the all-in-one platforms (camera, speakers and microphones in one unit) provide as high a quality as buying individual products. The Logitech Meetup and AVer VC342 are based upon decades of R&D. They boast features which were reserved for high-end products, but now are available to purchase as a single unit. All-in-ones provide high quality video and audio, in a simple to setup and use product. These are usually mounted either above or below your display, limiting the number cables running across the table, providing a much cleaner look to your huddle rooms. That also translates to making setup and installation easier - usually only one or two connections and you're ready to hold your first video conference.
Huddle Rooms are great for working teams
Huddle Rooms are the perfect complement to video conferencing. When done right, your huddle spaces are the perfect place to get a dispersed team together and get work done. Just remember, they also represent a few challenges - so plan accordingly.
If you have questions, or want more information, just let us know.
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