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How Do You Arrange Desks in Groups?

How Do You Arrange Desks in Groups?

The layout of a room impacts how well the space functions. A good desk layout improves collaboration whether it’s an open plan office, a classroom, or a training facility. Collaborative Furniture facilitates the most effective layouts to encourage synergistic workflows. The right collaborative desk layout will help any organization build creativity and cohesion. 

What Are Types of Seating Arrangements for Groups?

There are a wide variety of seating arrangement possibilities for groups in an office or classroom setting, each with their own set of pros and cons. Desks and tables that offer flexible options allow for great functionality in a space. Here are some common layouts:

1. Theater – Desks are arranged in straight rows, all facing forward (like seats at a movie theater). 

○ Pros – Efficient use of space, ease of seeing a single speaker at the front of the room

○ Cons – Limits communication between desks, little flexibility

2. U-shaped – Desks are arranged in a large U, with an open space in the center for a presenter.

○ Pros – Enhanced audience communication as many face each other, improved ability for presenter to interact with each audience member

○ Cons – Less efficient use of space, much of audience has a side view of the presenter

3. Boardroom – All desks are arranged facing each other, so that they create one large table space.

○ Pros – High level of audience collaboration, each participant has equal placement

○ Cons – Restricted presenter area, limited number of desks fit

4. Banquet – Several smaller groups of desks arranged facing each other, resembling several round dinner tables arranged at a banquet.

○ Pros – Fully collaborative audience engagement, optimal for small group communication

○ Cons – Some audience members will have their backs to a presenter, little communication between tables

5. Cabaret – Several small groups of desks facing each other, but with one end open facing the front of the room. Similar to U-shaped arrangement, but with several small U groups.

○ Pros – Very collaborative for participants, clear line of sight to a presenter

○ Cons – Less efficient use of space, limited communication between groups


Which Seating Arrangement Is Best?

Which seating arrangement is best for a group of desks depends on what you want to accomplish with the space as seating varies by the day, activity, or even presenter preference. The need for flexibility is a good argument for having easily reconfigurable desks. Having multiple spaces with different layouts for different activities is a good way to achieve this flexible use.

The importance of seating arrangement in a classroom or workplace is clear: workers and students benefit from more collaborative, active learning spaces. In fact, a Frontiers Psychology study found that “student satisfaction with active learning classrooms was significantly higher than with lecture classrooms.”

But one thing that is perhaps less commonly considered is that the effects of a seating arrangement in the classroom include changes to the way an educator instructs. A Yale study found that in spaces with a more traditional layout, teachers were more likely to spend time lecturing students. When collaborative seating arrangements were used, instructors spent more time leading cooperative and active learning activities.

Furniture that allows people to face each other fosters improved communication and collaboration. But which of the collaborative desk arrangement types would be best for different types of activities?

Which Seating Arrangement Should Be Used for a Debate Activity?

Teaching students or coworkers how to argue their points effectively offers many skill building opportunities. The best desk layout for these activities would be one of the following.

● A U-shaped desk setup allows the whole room to observe a debate. It also enables other participants to provide feedback for debaters to consider. These desks would work best when a presenter wants a debate to be observed by the entire group.

● A banquet setup with a smaller number of desks making up each table allows for multiple debate activities to happen at once, creating a good layout for a brainstorming activity. Banquet setups also allow participants to practice their debating skills in a less intimidating environment.

SMARTdesks iGroup Collaborative Furniture would allow for either of these seating options, and many more.

Which Seating Arrangement Is Most Suitable for Teacher Centered Instruction?

There are times where lecture style instruction is needed. For lecture-based instruction time, one of the following desk layouts will work best.

● A theater room layout, with desks in rows facing forward, allows for clear sight lines to an instructor or presentation materials. Theater setups also accommodate a large number of participants, since desks are placed with space economy in mind. 

● A cabaret desk layout, groups desks to form small semi-circle tables so participants face forward. With this room arrangement participants will be able to collaborate with each other as well as clearly see the speaker or presentation.

SMARTdesks Quart2 Sitting or Standing Desks could be ideal for both these configurations, as well as lots of others.

SMARTdesks: Effective Classroom Seating Arrangements Made Easy

At SMARTdesks, we design furniture to work for people. Our collaborative furniture was created with active learning principles in mind to enable maximum cooperative learning experiences. Have a look at some of our most popular options, including:

Collab Active Learning Conference Table – This technology enabled table for six ensures that participants are able to synergistically interact while also having built in places for charging and working with essential technology.

● Exchange Active Learning Tables – These individual modular tables come with integrated monitor mounts, with the possibility to combine them in dozens of configurations. Easily repositionable, these tables are able to be used as standalone workstations when needed. Combine them to make pinwheel, hexagon, or triangle shaped cooperative group seating.

Visit our website to see our full range of desk and table options, or contact us today for more information and to see how we help you design your perfect space.