If you’ve been paying even a little bit of attention to communication trends over the last few years, you’ve heard this time and time again: huddle rooms are the future! And this: huddle rooms are the now! Let’s briefly sketch how we got there. As more and more companies embraced flexible work models, fewer and fewer employees worked in offices full time. The age of jam-packed conference rooms was nearing its end, and the new era of collaboration favored small groups and video-assisted meet-ups. Big rooms were no longer necessary. What these mobile workers needed were more intimate staging areas outfitted with collaboration tools that allowed them to connect with distant colleagues and clients. And thus, the huddle room was born.
Why are we writing in the past tense? Well, no one is huddling right now, are they? People are either working from home or keeping a safe distance from their co-workers. No one is crowding around a table with their team at the moment. Which is good and necessary. The post-pandemic world will surely need huddle rooms more than ever, since it’s looking like a lot of new remote workers would prefer to stay that way. But for now, huddling is about the worst thing anyone could do.
Which doesn’t mean it’s time to turn your small rooms into temporary storage closets. In fact, your huddle rooms will be essential when employees return to the office. Until the pandemic is over, we should all be keeping as much distance from each other as possible. Large, open offices give employees a lot of much-needed flexibility, and the six-foot rule should be fairly easy to maintain, but that whole “open” part of the equation might be cause for some concern when we’re dealing with an airborne virus. To add another layer of caution to your COVID work plan, repurpose your huddle rooms as private offices for your on-site employees. It’s not exactly ideal to have our employees consigned to pods, but with video conferencing and collaboration solutions, they should be able to maintain healthy and productive working relationships with their colleagues.
So what should be done when people absolutely have to be in the same room together? Remember those large conference rooms? Well, they are your new huddle rooms! A bigger room designed to fit twenty people is an ideal place for three or four people to meet while maintaining social distance. It might not be ideal, but nothing is right now. Now is the time to just make it work. You can do it!
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