I decided to work on the kitchen area at IDM because I personally feel there are a lot of things to be improved and I am also curious how other people think about it. I spend two days for observation and interviewed 10 people. I found some problems I could work on and I concluded a problem of highest priority is the sanity of kitchen, especially the sink area. I will focus on that for the part 3.
I was able to spend two days, 10/21-22, to observe how people use the kitchen area. The usages were normal, chatting, having coffee/tea, studying, etc, but I found some interesting things.
- Some people had hard time to find the utensils, checking all the drawers to find what they want.
- Some left their used cups in the sink without washing. Some washed only their cups when there were some unwashed cups in the sink.
- A few times fridge were unclosed because some big stuffs like pizza box were stuck in the fridge, but most people did not notice.
I interviewed 10 people about the usage of kitchen area. I asked four questions: (1) How often do you use kitchen area (2) Why do you use kitchen area (3) What's your problem/trouble when you use kitchen area (4) What's your suggestion for other people to improve the usage of kitchen area. I will categorize interview responses in the following.
(1) How often do you use kitchen area
There are two different types of responses. 8 out of 10 people use kitchen almost every time and several times a day when they come to IDM and 2 out of 10 people have never used kitchen or used only a few times so far.
This interview shows that most people somehow use the kitchen area but I need to be careful the result might be biased since 6 out of 10 interviews were done in the kitchen area.
(2) Why do you use kitchen area
Although people have different purposes to use kitchen area, there are two common usage for most people: to have coffee/tea and/or to use shared utensils. Every people who use kitchen area use either of them. Other usages are also within exceptions: microwave, fridge, mingling, group work, relax, etc.
(3) What's your problem/trouble when you use kitchen area
Troubles people have can be categorized into: (1) Sanity (2) Guideline (3) Arrangement (4) Amenity.
As for (1) Sanity, examples are: leftover utensils in the sink, leftover foods in the fridge, not sure if stored utensils are clean or not, sponge is dirty, not sure some leftover food like pizza on the table are edible or not, etc.
As for (2) Guideline, examples are: not sure utensils are for public use or somebody's personal use, not sure some drinks in the fridge are for public or personal, not knowing how to use coffee machine, water server does not work, does somebody use dish washer. etc.
As for (3) Arrangement, examples are: sometimes somethings are lost/misplaced, don't know where to put some utensils, etc.
As for (4) Amenity, examples are: want to get more selections of tea/coffee, need sugar, water server does not work, etc.
(4) What's your suggestion for other people to improve the usage of kitchen area
Suggestions can be categorized into 2 types: (1) Guidelines (2) Person in charge.
Some people said that guidelines of how to use kitchen area would be helpful. For example, putting a sign of “wash your dish after use”, “how to make coffee”, “general rule of fridge usage”, “put cups/dishes here”, “dish washer finished running”, etc.
Also they wanted someone to be in charge this room. Some people said ex-IDM office actually had students workers to take care of not only kitchen area but also some other public areas to be clean under a certain person in charge.