Wellcome Trust study shows 97% increase in stair use

21 November 2016

What was the problem?

In early 2016 the Wellcome Trust, were looking for a way to boost the activity levels of staff in their impressive London headquarters in a real, long-lasting way. Sam Conaghan, Health, Safety & Environment Manager at Wellcome said “We were looking for a way to make our staff more active and healthy at work, without disturbing their working day and hampering productivity”.

With over eight storeys of office space and multiple lifts, encouraging staff to use the stairs rather than the lift was an obvious next step. However, Wellcome were conscious that any solution needed to be data driven and that they were able to provide detailed analysis of its effectiveness.

The solution

In July 2016 StepJockey equipped the Wellcome headquarters with a full range of smart stair prompts to nudge staff to take the stairs and ditch the lift.

To measure the real effectiveness of the initiative, infrared people counters were installed within stairwells to measure baseline stair usage before signs were installed. Results showed a significant and consistent 77% uplift in stair usage after the signs were installed.

Following the sign installation, Wellcome launched their first StepJockey Stair Climbing Challenge to further boost stair usage and drive up staff engagement. They launched StepJockey’s brand new Office Games Challenge which gets staff to take the stairs to burn the same number of calories as an Olympic athlete as they take on stadium based activities.

The results

More than 100 staff and 30 teams from across the building signed up to take part in the challenge and improve their health. In just four working weeks staff successfully completed the challenge taking almost 700,000 steps on their office stairs and burned 62,000 calories in the process.

Paul Nuki, StepJockey CEO said “The simplicity of stair climbing makes it very easy for everyone to seamlessly integrate it into their daily routine. This seems to have really resonated with staff as we’ve seen 15% engagement across the building, which is fantastic for a first time wellness initiative”.

Detailed reporting showed an impressive uplift in stair usage over the original baseline, with staff taking 97% more stair journeys during the challenge compared to pre-launch.

The increase in stair use was also maintained post-challenge, we saw 20% more stair climbs being taken when compared to activity before StepJockey signage was installed.

To gain objective insights into what the staff through of the challenge, players were asked to rate the initiative and give feedback via an online survey. Results showed 77% of people said they either ‘loved’ or ‘liked’ the challenge and more than 60% said they now use the stairs more frequently. One player that took part in the challenge remarked, “It really got the team moving more and it made me realise that you can achieve so much with just a little extra effort.”                 

Sam Conaghan, Health, Safety & Environment Manager at Wellcome commented, “We’ve been really impressed with the thorough and analytical way StepJockey has engaged our staff. It has been fantastic to see so many staff now using the stairs and having the hard data to back it up has been invaluable to reinforce the return on investment”.


Notes for editors

The Wellcome Trust

Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate. www.wellcome.ac.uk


StepJockey’s award winning behavioral change programme provides a simple and evidence based mechanism for making multi-storey offices more active and productive.

Its proprietary smart-sign and gamification technology is used by employers worldwide to combat sedentary behavior in the workplace by encouraging stair use. It allows all staff to seamlessly build exercise into their working week without disruption to the business.

The system is used in over 11,000 buildings around the world by clients including Disney, Pearson, JLL, UBS, Channel 4, NBC and The Wellcome Trust.

Backed by the UK Department of Health via Innovate UK and fully compliant with the new international Delos Well Building Standard, StepJockey provides the following key benefits:

  • Works for the ‘whole office’, not just the fit/sporty

  • Non-disruptive, allowing movement to be incorporated into working day

  • Highly visible, helping to embed a culture of health within offices

  • Significant time and energy savings in addition to health benefits

How does it work?

StepJockey buildings are equipped with a network of highly salient wireless smart signs that ‘nudge’ office staff to use the stairs rather than lifts or escalators. The signs can be read by mobile phone applications, allowing stair use to be tracked and further incentivised through the StepJockey gamification platform. The system allows employers to launch team based stair climbing challenges and to directly reward staff who habitually use the stairs.

Sedentary offices – a major global health risk

  • Sedentary behavior is cited by the World Health Organization (WHO) and others as a leading risk factor for a long term conditions including heart disease, type two diabetes and obesity.

  • Kills an estimated 5.3m annually – as many as smoking

  • Office workers at highest risk, with 60%-80% of working day spent sedentary

  • Rich nations, lead by US and UK, most impacted

  • Estimated costs, public and private, $58bn worldwide

Health benefits of stair climbing

  • Stair climbing is recommended by health authorities worldwide as a simple but powerful means to build incidental physical activity into the working week.

  • Stair climbing is officially classed as a ‘vigorous exercise’ and burns more calories per minute than jogging

  • It requires 8-9 times more energy expenditure than sitting and burns about 7 times more calories than taking a lift

  • The Harvard Alumni Study found that men who average at least eight flights a day enjoy a 33% lower mortality rate than men who are sedentary

  • For buildings with five floors or less, it’s nearly always quicker to take the stairs, with studies finding time savings of up to 15 minutes per person a day.

  • Just 7 minutes stair climbing a day has been estimated to more than half the risk of a heart attack over 10 years.


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Email: theteam@stepjockey.com

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