It is all about space. Not the final frontier of science fiction, but the practical reality of the modern office. Essentially, that’s what it comes down to when you compare the huddle room vs. conference room.
A conference room is a dedicated meeting space that can accommodate a dozen people, large digital screens, and permanent, hardware-heavy video and audio solutions. It’s a room built for larger meetings, whether entirely in-person or via video conference. A huddle room, by contrast, delivers the same high-quality video conferencing experience, but within a smaller setting geared for impromptu small meetings.
The two types of meeting rooms can coexist productively within the same building providing different solutions for different groups–or, occasionally, an office might choose one solution over the other. The question is, which type of room is right for your space and how should you outfit the one (or ones) you pick?
Choosing a Space for Your Team
Both conference rooms and huddle rooms are good for getting a group of professionals in front of a video camera so they can replicate the experience of an in-room meeting across a distance. The rise of cloud-based video solutions makes it easy for individuals to launch one-on-one meetings from the convenience of their own desks. At the same time, however, more and more workplaces are implementing open office layouts which make it difficult for an employee to hold a video conference at their desk–even if that video conference is a one-on-one call. That’s where huddle rooms come in. They provide spaces that can as easily host a quick video call with one person in the room as one with six people in the room.
However, no matter whether you choose conference rooms, huddle rooms, or some of each, you won’t have to compromise on technological features. Video devices that cater to small spaces now possess many of the same smart features as those that service large boardrooms. Automatic zoom, focus, and framing, and audio tricks such as active speaker tracking are common across devices. Also, meeting functions including screen sharing, host controls, and whiteboarding are generally supplied via the video platform that powers the connection, whether Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, BlueJeans, or another service.
In terms of hardware, the crux of the huddle room vs conference room debate lies in the power and design needed to effectively service the meeting space. That difference can be outlined in a simple product comparison.
Design Differences in Huddle Room Vs Conference Room Devices
The primary differences are field of view and form factor. Logitech MeetUp is an integrated solution with a built-in speaker and a wide-angle lens for capturing a small audience at proximity. Rally, in contrast, uses separate external speakers and individual mic pods and places greater emphasis on lens quality in order to capture detail at distance.
|Audio||Integrated microphones and speaker||Mic pod array, external speaker|
|Field of view||120 degrees||90 degrees|
|Zoom||5x digital||15x optical/digital lens|
This divide is common across huddle and conference room hardware: compact solutions with wide viewing angles for small spaces, more customized arrangements for bigger spaces. The resulting price difference is a consideration as well. As is intuitively apparent, it is more expensive to fit out a large room than a small one simply because the hardware must capture meeting attendees at a greater distance and across a broader distribution.
To decide what combination works best for your workers, you’ll want to consider what your company’s needs truly are.
The bottom line, however, is that unless your business is very small, your decision won’t be whether to choose a huddle room vs a conference room, it’ll be what kind of combination of the two to provide. For many offices, one or two conference rooms and a handful of huddle rooms is sufficient, while companies with larger teams might want to focus on conference rooms almost exclusively. To decide what combination works best for your workers, you’ll want to consider what your company’s needs truly are–and ask the right questions.
How to Ask the Right Questions About Video Conferencing
Don’t invest in a setup that won’t provide true value for those it’s meant for. What that means is, if your employees will be using huddle rooms for the majority of their meetings, you don’t need a 50/50 split between conference rooms and huddle rooms. Take a long look at how those in your company actually perform their day-to-day tasks and provide them with a way to do those things better and more easily. Here are some questions to get you started:
How many people generally attend video meetings?
If you never have more than six people in the room for any given meeting, you may not need a large conference room setup. One option is to outfit only a huddle room and save the conference room for regular in-person meetings. Chances are, however, that every so often you will have a use for a video call-enabled conference room. Moreover, there is overlap between the conference room and the huddle room–a team meeting via video conference of six people could take place in either setting, and in some cases a conference room might be preferable as it allows participants more room to spread out.
What room sizes and shapes are you working with?
Video calling cameras for the huddle room are designed with a wide field of view to capture participants closer together in a small room; this type of camera is also well-suited for wide rooms that aren’t particularly deep. A typical boardroom-type meeting room–narrow and deep, in which participants are likely sitting on either side of a long table–is well-suited for a conference room video camera with a 90-degree field of view.
Large room setups are getting more and more intuitive.
How big are your teams?
This is where you’ll need to get into the nitty-gritty of how work is done in your office. Maybe you already know you need a conference room for those regular large meetings with another branch. But, if your employees usually work in teams of three or four and often collaborate with remotely located colleagues, you’ll likely want to invest in one or more huddle room setups as well.
What are your quality and feature requirements?
As we mentioned earlier, the quality and functionality of your hardware should not be an issue in choosing between conference or huddle room technologies. Both solutions offer ultra-HD video and automated features, and the vast majority of your video conference tools–screen sharing, participant capacity, video recording–are dependent on your software platform, not your hardware.
What’s your budget?
It stands to reason that more compact huddle room options will, in general, be cheaper than traditional conference room options. However, you’ll want to shop around. Many huddle room cameras cost several hundred dollars; factor in the necessary add-ons, such as a display and touchscreen interface, and a huddle room setup can come close to the price of a conference room solution.
How much IT knowledge do you have?
Large room setups are getting more and more intuitive, and in some cases, the only difference between a conference room and huddle room system may be the camera and speakers–each system will use the same interface and plug-and-play setup. However, if you’re choosing a high-end conference room setup, you’re still likely to run across plenty of systems that require IT resources to install.
Considering these practical realities should get you on the path to choosing the perfect video conferencing system. In most cases, it will come down to the simple office management task of making the most out of the space and resources at hand.