There’s no question about it — working from home has become the new normal after COVID-19. As a remote workforce continues to grow, employers are looking for ways to assist employees in the transition that allows for more social distancing while maintaining productivity and a collaborative environment. One approach to overcoming challenges brought on by a pandemic is through huddle spaces that connect remote workers with those who come into the office, as well as with employees who work a hybrid model of home and office.
What is a Huddle Space?
A huddle space is a room or area that allows small groups (usually 2 to 5 people) to interact with remote team members through software and technology. As many companies are following the start-up model of an open space office setup, multiple huddle spaces cost less to furnish than a typical conference room would require.
Most huddle spaces are equipped with high-tech video equipment, an LCD or LED monitor, a table and chairs, and a whiteboard. This type of office space adjustment allows for smaller teams to have the privacy to collaborate with remote workers through work-from-home IT solutions such as video conferencing, software, cloud computing, and more. Additionally, a wide-angle lens can be used to help remote workers feel like they are sitting in the room with their team.
Why the Need for Huddle Spaces Has Grown
Huddle spaces are most useful in situations where office-based employees need to collaborate with their fellow employees who are working remotely. Especially when designed as an ergonomic office, a huddle space will increase a team’s productivity when some team members are in the office while others are not.
This type of setting will become increasingly important, even when the threat of a pandemic has passed. An article in Forbes estimates that allowing an employee to work from home can save a company as much as $22,000 per year. Obviously, employers are seeing the benefits of hiring remote employees that go beyond slowing the spread of COVID-19.
In fact, as of 2021, one in four Americans are now remote workers. If the trend continues (as it likely will), conversations surrounding improving work-from-home outcomes and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are going to be important and should be a focus for companies steadily building a remote workforce.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home
As with any other employment scenario, employees who work from home find both advantages and disadvantages in it. Data collection shows that productivity increases 47 percent when working from home versus in an office setting. Remote employees also tend to take fewer sick days and work more days a week compared to those who go into the office. Additionally, those who work from home free up an average of 8.5 hours a week by not commuting to work.
However, Stanford University found that while working from home accounts for more than 60 percent of U.S. economic activity, only 65 percent of Americans had sufficient Internet connectivity to conduct video calls. This creates a gap in the IT solutions that can be available in an office huddle space versus what remote employees have available in their homes. In order to fill this gap, it is important for employers to equip remote employees with the technology needed to connect and collaborate with others through huddle space meetings.