"Step into my office,” long a phrase evoking tension and intrigue, isn’t so much a possibility in today’s open-plan workplace. “Step up to my desk section” doesn’t really have the same command, and the entirely too self-aggrandizing “Let’s talk in the conference room” is taking things just a bit too far. Thus, the huddle room came to be the perfect middle ground. A space for quiet conversation or focused collaboration, away from the fray and isolated from prying eyes, the huddle room is the new champion of productivity.
Unless the walls are made of glass, which is all too often the case in modern architecture. The need for “transparency” in the corporate setting may be all well and good in a visual sense, but it’s wreaking havoc with the auditory surroundings of those who just want to get things done.
There are a great many new conflicts, unspoken and yet very much elicited out loud, in the modern office. The brazen speakerphone user seldom notices a neighboring phone whisperer too afraid to disturb others. Those with something urgent to get done and big thoughts on their mind may stride up to desks and launch into top-secret discussion while surrounded by countless unintended listeners.
The whims of architects and executives shall forever prompt surprise and even consternation in those tasked with making their visions a reality, but it is at this moment in time that the AV industry most stands to benefit from their vacillations. Accordingly, there is much to be gathered in terms of intelligence and opportunity across the aisles of ISE’s many halls, in the seats of its training rooms and Solutions Theatres, and of course in that good old-fashioned happenstance of meeting with other likeminded colleagues.
There are countless sessions, scattered across the program throughout ISE week, that may serve to benefit those eager to climb the corporate ladder to new levels of AV design expertise. Before the show starts, Monday's course offerings include "The Future of Work: Workplace Collaboration Thrives in the Spatial Operating Environment," provided by the collaboration maestros at Oblong Industries. Relevant sessions on Tuesday include “Needs Analysis of End-User Requirements,” offered on InfoComm’s Training roster, and later in the Commercial Solutions Theatre it will be possible to cross-reference those needs with market potential during InfoComm’s Market Research session at the Commercial Solutions Theatre. Wednesday morning, those most enterprising souls will arise early for “Destination 2020: Future Trends in AV and Electronic Systems,” an InfoComm Training session geared toward trying to predict the unfathomable progress that is likely to occur over the next five years. Some might say it’s impossible to guess what is happening in six months, so it’s important to start charting for the turn of the next decade as best we can. If you didn’t wake up for that event, there’s an afternoon session on “Designing AV for the Future,” presented by USIS.
In confluence with ISE attendees’ edification in sessions off the trade show floor, the knowledge gained on a tour through the sea of exhibitors’ stands will provide plenty of practical solutions for the sometimes pie-in-the-sky requests of office designers. Watch in particular for sound masking technologies to enhance privacy and productivity, cameras and conferencing options for enabling achievements far and wide, and glamorous electro-acoustic enhancement systems to help tame even a completely open office acoustic. Dream big, bigger than the displays that will catch your eye, and plan lots of sales meetings where clients will be startled to find that technology might just be catching up with their imagination.
Kirsten Nelson is the Editor at Large of SCN.