Banks of desks featured in the Billy Wilder film 'The Apartment'

Banks of desks featured in the Billy Wilder film ‘The Apartment’

Schools in New York are starting to drop desks from the classroom and move to a more open plan style of learning. Elementary (or primary schools) in Hastings, New York, are removing desks and instead are opting to create flexible learning spaces, free of the constraints of a wooden desk and a uncomfortable chair. 

Flexible learning spaces aim to give children the opportunity to understand for themselves where they are most comfortable learning. It works a little differently in each classroom, but the concept is generally the same. When students come into the room, they choose a spot they think they’ll be comfortable and focused.

Some teachers allow their students to change spots whenever they start a new activity, while others have their students stay in one spot for the week. Teachers reserve the right to have any student move if one location – or neighbor – proves to be too distracting.

Offices are, in some cases, following suit, by trying to create spaces were desks are less integral, hot-desking is also increasingly popular. Long gone are the days illustrated in the photograph above when offices were comprised of banks of desk all lined up under clinical lights, however some work spaces continue to lag behind.

In a recent HRreview poll 72 percent of workers questioned about their workspace said that they were able to put up with their office, but did not find it inspiring. This was followed by 19 percent who labeled their work space as beautiful and 9 percent claimed that their office was an asthetic disaster that they were always happy to leave.