Months of lockdowns left many companies unsure of what their office space needs would look like going into 2021 and beyond. We are getting some clarity into what that future will look like though. Employees are becoming more and more remote, and organizations are increasing the frequency of small team meetings in-person with others joining remotely. Offices have fewer people in them, but they do at least have teams collaborating in the physical space and outside of it. The corporate workspace is more connected now than it ever has been. The need for increasing collaboration tools, and the ability for in-person and remote workers to connect virtually is skyrocketing.
Every company’s return-to work plan is different and offers different levels of flexibility, but one thing is certain, remote is here to stay. In many ways, we were already on this path to remote success, but the pandemic moved the timeline by five to ten years. Thus, creating safe office spaces, with the ability to distance from one another when necessary is a priority for most. We recommend creating conference rooms and huddle spaces that can accommodate small groups but make it possible to collaborate with global teams via touch-less solutions, room control and vivid display technologies that can support a variety of meeting platforms such as Zoom, Teams, etc… We also recommend easy to clean surfaces and microbial seating when possible be installed in these huddle spaces to promote health and wellness.
Not only is the technology, functionality, and room size important for your next huddle space build-out, but the way in which you book meetings and conduct them is vital too. Book meetings in advance when you can so that last minute bookings can be avoided that create a need to employees to make last minute plans to show up at the office. When you can leave time in between the meeting prior to yours and the start of the meeting following yours. This can allow time for the cleaning of the space, or for the next attendees to wipe down a table or clean a room control system. Also, be mindful of any huddle room capacity limits and schedule some participants remotely if needed, especially those that prefer to be remote anyways.
Keep your meetings brief. Your agenda should be concise and covered quickly. You can even book a portion of the meeting (maybe a brainstorming session for instance” in-person where collaboration is key. The findings of that session, or even the kickoff to it could be done remotely, or with a small physical team and larger remote audience.
In a pre-pandemic world, meeting rooms, and small huddle spaces were often places where employees could sneak away and capture uninterrupted work time without people walking by a desk or popping into an office. We anticipate that this will no longer be the case and huddle-rooms and huddle spaces will be reserved for actual small group meetings more often than not. We recommend simply booking enough space for the essential in-person attendees and having everyone else call in so that from time to room you might still be able to use a huddle room as a singular employee or group of two.
This brings us to our next point. Digital signage both inside and outside of the space should be ideally interactive and even touch-less,. It should clearly show room capacity, and availability, as well as a calendar for the future accessibility of the space. The cleaning schedule of the space should also be readily available for a huddle room for those employees that wish to book a recently cleaned room.
Whatever you decide to do when it comes to your huddle spaces of the future, make sure you listen to your employees desires and needs. If cleaning is the most important piece of the experience to your employees, then focus on that. If a large portion of your workforce is staying remote, then huddle space connectivity and technology that supports that should be your most important priority. The look and feel of the huddle space of the future will largely be driven by the employee and customer needs of each individual organization.