StepJockey is a digital health application which fights sedentary behaviour in offices by incentivising the use of stairs over lifts and escalators. We were engaged at the concept stage of the brand’s development with a brief to identify and test the triggers to getting office workers to ‘ditch the lift’ and ‘seamlessly and inclusively’ incorporate physical activity into the working day. The work was funded by the Department of Health through Innovate UK.
We interrogated the published evidence-base for behavioural triggers and hypothesised that smart signs placed at stair entrances containing the calorie count for the stairs would ‘nudge’ people to make greater use the stairs. A ‘gamification’ element in which workers could track their stair use and compete with others was also proposed. Field trials were set up to test a working prototype. Qualitative measures were gleaned through groups. Key findings included:
VISIBLE NUDGES WORK – the presence of signs alone at the point of choice between stairs and lifts increased stair journeys by up to 29%.
CHALLENGE MOTIVATES – when people were able to track their calorie burn and compete with others stair use increased five to eightfold.
INCENTIVES ARE KEY – adding a prize incentive for reaching a goal increases stair climbing from 5.4 to 7.8 journeys a day.
HABITS FORM QUICKLY – after 4 weeks 92% said stair climbing had become a habit.
THE HERD EFFECT – a benefit of StepJockey over individual fitness devices (eg. Fitbit) is others can see the behaviour and be influenced. The herd effect was a trigger for 16%.
DIFFERENTIAL MESSAGING – men were best motivated by messages on heart health, women on weight loss and the young by vanity messaging (eg. ‘stair climbing firms your buns’).
REALITY GAP – many users proposed environmental messages (eg ‘burn calories not carbon’) but it was found to be a poor motivator compared non-altruistic prompts
The research provided the Department of Health and Innovate UK with the confidence to seed-fund StepJockey as an independent business. It started trading in 2014 and had at the time of writing labelled stairs in more than 14,000 buildings in over 100 countries. It is now backed by private investors and counts among its’ clients many UK bluechip companies. StepJockey’s users integrate significantly more movement into their working days, reducing their long-term health risks considerably.