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Secrets to a Better Huddle Space – Part 2

February 25, 2016

Wondering how to turn huddle spaces from zero to hero? This is Part 2 (read Part 1 here) of a list of things you need to consider when designing huddle spaces for your team.

It goes without saying that easy-to-use video conferencing technology like the Tely 200 plays a big part. Collaboration sessions often happen with remote team members, so video is important because it allows participants to see vital non-verbal cues. Non-verbal cues accounts for up to 93% of communication.

Here are some additional considerations to ensure the best ROI from your huddle space:

DON’T: Design with Bright Colors
Avoid bright colors, like red or orange, when designing your huddle space. These colors won’t display properly over video, making video collaboration an uncomfortable experience for your team. The same is true for highly contrasting color schemes.

Muted earth tones typically work best for video conferencing. That’s not to say you can’t add a small splash of color here or there, but keep it to a minimum and, if possible, away from the camera.

DO: Indirect Light
Indirect light is advised for optimal picture quality during video collaboration sessions. Direct light causes harsh contrasts and shadows that degrade picture quality.

Recessed lighting with soft diffused light bulbs is a good option. Bonus points if you can install a dimmer switch. If track lighting is in the room, choose low watt bulbs and aim them toward the walls and away from the camera to help diffuse the light.

If you want to get really technical, the optimal color temperature is 4,000/4,100 Kelvin.

DO: Easy Scheduling
Most users will access the space on an ad-hoc basis. Having a scheduling app and a dedicated calendar for the room is the way to go. Participants should be able to see at a quick glance if the room is available and for how long.  Integrated calendaring will let users launch a video call with a single click. For huddle spaces shared by the same teams, it’s a good idea to implement customized directories pre-populated with relevant contacts to make it easy for frequent users to join and connect with each other.

DO: Close, but Quiet

Many huddle meetings happen on the fly. For that reason, all the design in the world won’t make your huddle space a hit if it’s situated too far from the main work areas in the office.

But it also needs to be quiet and relatively distraction free. If your huddle space is open air, try to choose locations around the perimeter of main work areas. If you can, select spots with at least one or two walls. Arrange seating so that attendees’ line of sight is to each other and away, if possible, from nearby foot traffic.

If your huddle space has four walls, to improve the acoustics, look first to the largest surface areas—the walls, ceiling, and floor. Installing sound absorbing materials, such as carpet or fabric covered panels, will reduce the reverberation by absorbing the sound. Materials such as glass, brick, concrete block, wood floors, gypsum board, and tile do not absorb much sound.  You can look up the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) that rates a material’s ability to absorb sound for the human speech range. A material with an NRC of 0 will reflect all sound that hits it. A material with an NRC of 1.0 will theoretically absorb all sound that hits it.

If you are thinking of glass panels for your huddle space, opt for double pane. Glass is highly reflective and double-glazing gives the sound waves more obstacles to reverberate and helps muffle vibrations. To decrease the noise levels even further use different glass thicknesses or even laminate.

Acoustical ceiling-tile systems, especially those with fiberglass are very effective at reducing overall room sound levels. Lastly, don’t forget to isolate the HVAC system and to adjust it. Set right it will provide the quiet hum and perfect white noise but too much airflow will create discomfort.

 

Have any other dos or don’ts to add to the list? Tell us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.