Seating arrangements that ensure a productive company event

Connecting with peers and coworkers is a vital part of boosting morale in the workplace.

Seating arrangements are essential in setting the tone within the physical space that fosters intentional connection.

Whether it be round table seating, where eye contact and discussion are the main focus for strengthening teams, or the more traditional theater style in larger venues to draw focus to a speaker, there are numerous ways to design a workspace based on your specific needs. 

Here are some of the most popular seating arrangements to help your business encourage communication, inclusivity, and productivity. 

Everyone gather round’ 

People are working remotely now more than ever, changing how we understand productivity and the future of work. Due to this significant shift away from office culture, companies recognize the value of company retreats, conferences, and regular opportunities to promote building and trust in the workplace, especially for those businesses that have gone fully remote. 

Round table seating is a way to bring people together in a way that cultivates intimacy. Ideal for small to mid-size teams, this type of seating arrangement can be done in places with limited space, giving you more venue options. 

Round table - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

Banquet seating for encouraging cross-connections 

Banquet seating, like a round table, provides an intimate setting, but in this case, there are numerous tables instead of one central seating area. Banquet seating consists of tables set up in close proximity, making it possible for larger companies to break into small groups, ideal for meet-and-greets and encouraging cross-connection. 

Banquet seating also lends itself to celebration. This seating arrangement is a comfortable and efficient way to bring teams together to present awards or honor the latest professional achievements.   

Banquet - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

Cabaret for awards ceremonies and parties

Suppose you’re hoping to host an awards ceremony or honor your employees in a festive setting. In that case, a cabaret arrangement is ideal, as it provides a comfortable and informal environment that can accommodate a speaker or presentation. Like banquet seating, this arrangement focuses on round tables and draws focus to a main speaker or presentation while bringing teams close. 

Instead of having groups fully enclose the table, cabaret seating requires one end of the table to remain open towards the focal point of the presentation or speaker. This type of arrangement can accommodate mid-size groups by efficiently using space.  

Cabaret - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons: 

Boardroom seating for business 

Boardroom seating is a great way to combine a formal set-up with the chance for conversation and discussion. For small to mid-size meetings requiring an entire company or team, the boardroom focuses on those leading the conference while also allowing for close physical proximity, perfect for Q&A sessions. 

If your company is planning an off-site meet-up, the boardroom seating arrangement is an excellent setup for mini-conferences and workshops. 

Boardroom - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

 

Classroom style to focus on learning

It might feel like you are back in school with this setup, as the classroom sets values, focus, and function. Classroom seating is an excellent setup for small presentations. 

If your company is setting up a retreat that is focused on team building but also needs to address important announcements, such as end-of-the-year figures or policy changes. In that case, the classroom can bring focus and space for attendees to socialize afterward.  

Classroom - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

Enhance engagement with the chevron setup

Much like the classroom setup, the chevron seating arrangement prioritizes the speaker and is a great way to bring the whole team together for a small conference of announcements. 

Chevron seating is often two columns with several seats in each row at an angle toward each other. Larger companies can utilize space efficiently and promote productivity using the chevron style.

Chevron - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

Hollow-square setup for all hands on deck

The hollow square seating arrangement is like a boardroom setup, except by incorporating an open shape, it has the potential to feel less formal or restricted. This setup works well if your company is organizing a workshop that isn’t dependent on group work and brings small to mid-size teams together. Hollow Square can also accommodate large teams depending on whether or not the room is large enough to fit large tables. 

Hollow-square - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

Horseshoe seating for informal meetups and events

Think hollow-square seating with an open space without a table, allowing for more fluid interaction from presenters or designated speakers. 

The horseshoe seating arrangement does require a fair amount of space but can fit a medium-sized team without compromising openness. 

Horseshoe - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

Open format or lounge setting

Drawing inspiration from the open-plan office and coworking spaces, lounge-style seating allows people to mingle freely, encouraging serendipitous conversation and intimacy among workers. 

An open-format breaks down the hierarchy and is an ideal seating arrangement for introductions and company retreats focused on team-building. 

Pros:

Cons:

Traditional conference or theater setup

For large-scale meetups, the most popular arrangement is the conference room which is similar to theater-style or auditorium-style seating. Participants often face a stage or platform where speakers present or give small panel discussions in front of the audience. 

The traditional seating arrangement is one of the most commonplace setups, as it can accommodate teams of all sizes and aims to provide focus. 

Theatre - seating arrangement

Pros:

Cons:

The right seating arrangement for your next event or company retreat can play a significant role in how employers interact with one another and can be a strategic way to evoke productivity and connection, ultimately bringing workers closer together. 

If you’re unsure whether or not any of the setups mentioned above will suit your specific needs, we can help you figure out what type of venue and seating will be the best fit for your particular event; The Surf Office offers a meeting room capacity calculator to help you figure out what will work best for you and your team. 

The Surf Office is here to help you organize your next company retreat and work out even the smallest details, from icebreaker topics to seating arrangements.

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
budget retreat spreadsheet

Retreat Budget Spreadsheet

Are you organising a company retreat and want to make sure you have all the costs under the control?

Get a copy of our free Budget Calculator spreadsheet.

Get a copy

Interviews with more “newly-remote” companies:

How digital product studio Pixelmatters transformed from office to remote

How digital product studio Pixelmatters transformed from office to remote

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that large companies like Twitter, Shopify and Slack are “going remote”. And recently, we’re hearing more and more stories about smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies doing the same. What were their motivations? What challenges do they face during this transition? How do they see their future? We…

From the office to remote: Real.Digital chooses quality over the location

From the office to remote: Real.Digital chooses quality over the location

Around mid-August of this year Real.Digital announced that they will be operating as a remote first company from now on.They might not be affected by the COVID-19 in economic terms, but the decision to shift their work practices was still a significant one. Fortunately, they’re viewing it as a great opportunity to open up their talent pool to people from all over the world!

Skift’s Insights and Experiences About Switching to Remote Work

Skift’s Insights and Experiences About Switching to Remote Work

During these times, many companies are switching to remote work. You may have heard that large companies, like Twitter, Shopify, and Slack are doing so, but we’re also seeing this shift with smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies as well. Perhaps this transition was already in the pipeline, or maybe COVID-19 was the catalyst. Either…

CPJ’s journey into remote work

CPJ’s journey into remote work

During these times, many companies are switching to remote work. You may have heard that large companies, like Twitter, Shopify, and Slack are doing so, but we’re also seeing this shift with smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies as well. Perhaps this transition was already in the pipeline, or maybe COVID-19 was the catalyst. Either…

FREE COURSE

How to plan your first company retreat

Get for free

With knowledge collected from:

free course partners logos

Organize your next company retreat with Surf Office

450+ retreats organized ● 8 years of experience ● 110+ retreat locations
Get a quote