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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Text mining for occupant perspectives on the physical workplace


This paper reports on analysis of open-ended survey responses from a commercial building indoor environment satisfaction survey database maintained by the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment. Building from satisfaction ratings and standardised categorical responses collected in surveys for 192 U.S. office buildings, text analysis software is used to analyse text responses to open-ended survey questions, focusing on occupants’ perspectives on the workplace and building overall, temperature, and acoustics. These occupant texts detail interactions between occupants and their physical environment in a technical sense but also interpret these interactions, assess their consequences, and reflect on social relationships and other matters that lie outside dimension-by-dimension assessments of the physical environment. Viewed together these texts reveal a user-centred perspective that points to issues that rest below the surface of more technical analyses of buildings, such as over airconditioning, worker stress and frustration, workplace usability, and relationships between physical and other aspects of the workplace. Attending to this perspective could lead to improvements in occupant experience, building and technology design, building operations, and survey research, as well as inform initiatives that require occupant adaptation and cooperation, including those for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

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