Collaboration is the name of the game in 2015. As technology has done more to expand the reach of many companies over the past few decades than anything else, it has done as much to bring people together no matter where they are located on the map. Today it is possible for employees in Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles to work on a team together as if they were all located in the same area code. We are not as bound to certain locations as we had once been.
The ways that these employees communicate can vary depending on a number of factors, the most important of which being the types of systems that their companies have provided them with. A microphone system can help to make communication crisp and clear, but will it pick up on all the nuances of human interaction? A simple videoconferencing unit will allow employees to take note of facial expressions and body language to provide better overall communication, but will it allow them to share documents and content when they need to? Screen capture and streaming software will allow documents to be shared in real time over long distances, but will it allow for those remote employees without access to the document to manipulate the data onscreen?
There are so many considerations to be made when installing the right collaboration tech. Especially important is where the technology is going and what the function of the room will be. You’re going to want different systems for a huddle room than you will for a corporate boardroom. The same goes for open office spaces. While the functionality of your system will depend on your own practices and needs, there is some equipment that seem to better fit in certain areas.
Before we speak about tech for huddle areas we need to make a distinction: a huddle space, as I am describing it, refers to a spot in a public, open office area where a group of 2-4 employees can gather spontaneously to collaborate. It may be a small conference table or a rounded couch. It could be placed in the cafeteria, the hallways, or throughout the office. But it is not as private and has a different functionality than a huddle room.
In a huddle space the goal is to allow small teams to gather and share information. Most employees regularly carry a smartphone or laptop that has all of their information gathered in different documents. Think about installing a small display screen on the wall or attached to the table at huddle spaces. You can then include screen sharing capabilities with this display, whether through airplay, wires, or something like a Barco Clickshare which allows you to send the image from your screen directly to the display with a USB port and the click of a button. If you can add the ability for all members to take over the screen without effort that’s a huge bonus; It will eliminate the time needed to set up someone else’s device, furthering the functionality of what the space is supposed to be used for.
Huddle Rooms, like huddle spaces, are used (primarily) for small teams to come together and collaborate. Where huddle spaces are meant for quick, impromptu meetings, huddle rooms are more private and lend themselves to long, involved collaboration sessions. Therefore the technology should be more advanced and practical for longer, more involved work.
An interactive whiteboard is always a plus in huddle rooms. They cross the generational gap as they mix traditional, analog practices (writing ideas and diagrams on a whiteboard) and turns them digital. At the end of a session the notations can be saved as a document and distributed so that notes don’t get at the end of the work day. Then you can simply turn back to your notes from the previous day when you continue the session. Interactive whiteboards can be bought as touchscreen displays, or as interactive projection systems on a screen. If you wish, you can make the system more advanced by including browser capabilities, screen sharing, and more to turn the system, essentially, into a large tablet.