“Huddle room” is one of those wonderful expressions that immediately conjures up an image – a team gathered tightly together in a small space discussing urgent matters. Many people became aware of the word “huddle” from football as the offence would huddle up before each play. In business, “huddle room” conjures up an image of a team reaching consensus quickly and then moving to execute the play.
But if we take a moment to consider what the two words mean when used together, very quickly we conclude that this is not at all what the phrase was intended to convey.
Over the last couple of years in particular, organizations have set about creating many, many huddle rooms as usage data showed most larger meeting rooms were occupied by only small numbers of people. Dividing these larger meeting rooms into smaller huddle rooms gave organizations much needed spaces to accommodate more meetings. Predictably, huddle spaces are now often packed with more than the 2 to 4 participants that they were originally designed to accommodate.
With the rapid advent of COVID-19 and the recommended physical distancing, what will this mean for huddle spaces? Will the pendulum swing the other way toward larger spaces so that people can spread out?
These are likely questions that many organizations are grappling with right now as they contemplate moving out of home offices back to the office. At the top of the agenda for both management and staff is everyone’s health and safety. No entity wants to put anyone into an unsafe office work environment, and that is forcing a rethink on space that is provided for individual work as well as for team work.
By now everyone has heard the recommendations to stay 6 feet or 2 meters away from colleagues. We’ve seen the simulations of how speaking the words “Stay healthy” spews droplets into the space outside the speaker’s mouth. We’re sensitized to the transmission of the virus from the air and surfaces.
While it’s early for seeing exactly what the outcome will be, a few things are clear:
- In some jurisdictions, governments may establish standards for people proximity in work spaces, rolling back some of the densification efforts in both individual and shared spaces
- Whether standards are dictated by governments or corporations, individuals will ultimately decide what is safe in their own estimation
- WFH is here to stay. For some, it will be intermittent. For others, it will be their new normal.
- While COVID-19 has been the catalyzing event, everyone now will be much more sensitive to their own health and the health of colleagues. Colds and flu symptoms will be much more noticed and not tolerated in the workplace.
The huddle room as a named space may survive, but its use and prevalence likely will change quite dramatically.
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Posted on Jun 16, 2020 8:00:00 AM