Assessing Comfort in Open-Plan Offices on Campus – Which Comfort Parameters Matter?
Comfort is a highly individual and adaptive process, which is influenced by a multitude of environmental and social factors. In the scope of a pilot study, we conducted an online survey among PhD students, most of whom have desk spaces assigned in open-plan offices on campus, to uncover issues affecting their comfort from an individual perspective based on quantitative as well as qualitative information. We found that social aspects were cited most often as positive qualities of the workplace, whereas environmental factors were most often cited as sources of discomfort, with thermal and acoustic discomfort as well as matters of cleanliness leading the way. Participants indicated that some of these parameters also influenced their use or avoidance of their workplace, which reflected in their frequency of use and the use of other places to work. We consequently identified decision making processes based on indoor environmental quality parameters taking place in the choice of a work place as a possible area for further investigation, which could include looking at activity and work patterns alongside individual preferences.