Work-from-home is over and we're heading back to offices with the pandemic almost gone. The endless meetings will now be in-person.
And although the way tables and chairs are arranged in the conference room might not seem all that important, the layout matters and can directly affect the efficiency of the communication.
Here are the 5 most common conference room layouts and their pros & cons:
1. Theatre-Style Seating
This type of seating doesn't use tables, and all rows of chairs face the front, with an aisle in the middle for easy access to seats.
Perfect for presentations and demonstrations at the front
Clearly distinguishes between listeners and speakers
Communication is one-sided; there's no teamwork
Not enough room to walk around
2. Boardroom-Style Seating
With this type of seating, there's a long table that seats people (including the presenter) on all sides.
Members can engage in discourse
All members feel equal sitting at one table
Tasks get completed faster
3. U-Shape Style Seating
In this one, the tables and chairs are arranged inn the shape of the letter 'U'.
Members see the front of the room and each other since they sit facing inwards in the 'U'
Consequently, it's easier for them to engage in discourse
The 'U' shape makes it easy for the presenters to walk around to engage with the attendees
The shape wastes a lot of space, seating lesser guests than a simpler design will
The presentation will appear at an angle to some guests
4. Cluster-Style Seating
Another way is to arrange tables (and chairs) strategically accross the room.
This seating style gives the best of both worlds- it's easy to listen to the presentations, and it's easy to work in teams and have discussions
The tables can be round or rectangular
You can use tables big and small to fit the number of guests
Unless it's set up cabaret style, that is, if you set chairs all around the tables, some guests will have their backs to the presentation
You might be able to seat lesser guests because of the wasted space
5. Classroom-Style Seating
Like a classroom, this seating style has rows of tables facing the front (presenter), and there is a chair for each table.
Everyone faces the front
This style efficiently uses floor space
Difficult to work in groups
Discussion may feel one-sided
Ultimately, you may benefit from choosing a layout depending on the purpose of your meeting.