The impact of indoor environmental quality on work productivity in university open-plan research offices

Shengxian Kang, Dayi Ou, Cheuk Ming Mak

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


The present study focuses on a special type of open-plan offices, university open-plan research offices (UOROs), and aims to study how the IEQ of this type of offices affects the occupants’ productivity. A four-part IEQ assessment framework for the University Open-plan Research Office (UORO) is first proposed. Then the investigation is conducted based on survey responses collected from 231 people who are working in UOROs from 19 universities in China. The analysis results show a clear picture of (1) how the office productivity is affected by the five key IEQ aspects (layout, air quality, thermal comfort, lighting and acoustic environment), (2) how these five key IEQ aspects are affected by their corresponding sub-factors, such as conversation noise, and (3) how occupants’ perception of sub-factors are affected by individual factors, such as occupant demographics and work activity. The results also emphasize the quality of acoustic environment has the greatest influence on the occupants’ productivity in UOROs and imply occupants working in UOROs have higher requirements for acoustic environment than in other common types of open-plan offices. Based on the analysis, a decision-making strategy is also presented for the evaluation and improvement of the IEQ of UOROs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Indoor environmental quality (IEQ)
  • Office noise
  • Open-plan office
  • University open-plan research office (UORO)
  • Work productivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction


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