Turning Short Breaks Into Meaningful Activity

Context, a boutique communication and change management consulting firm focused on employee health and well-being, approached Mad*Pow to build a customizable workplace wellness tool to combat “sitting disease.” Our solution was Hotseat, a multi-award winning behavior change game that fits in employees’ pockets.

Product Highlights

  • Identified stakeholders to guide solution development
  • Immersed ourselves in the science behind “sitting disease,” existing interventions, and workplace wellness objectives
  • Designed interface and game design for maximum engagement and lean, targeted reporting

Understanding the Risks of Sitting Disease

Media’s trumpeted the risks of uninterrupted bouts of sitting through articles with titles like “How Your Job is Slowly Killing You.” Even so, people need more than information or even activity trackers to get them out of their seats. context wanted to deliver a customizable experience where users could use their phones to perform a series of micro-activity breaks throughout the day. Mad*Pow went to “school” on sitting disease and the needs of employers to round out context’s concept and turn it into a full-fledged workplace wellness tool.

Reducing the Barriers to Use

Making regular activity breaks feel possible for employees and acceptable to employers was a key objective for Hotseat. Mad*Pow lowered the usability barriers by streamlining user setup, setting the activity breaks to a manageable two minutes, and building an interface that synced with users’ calendars, ensuring breaks occurred during known open times.

Building Around Behavior Change and Game Theory

Mad*Pow employed various behavior and game design theories to ensure Hotseat achieved its goal. Its design builds from our desire to follow through on pre-commitments, then leverages multiple modes of play, nudges, social accountability, and competition to create an engaging and sticky experience—delivered with a playful attitude.

Delivering Data to Employee and Employer

To guide use and provide both employees and their employers with meaningful and actionable information, Mad*Pow designed streamlined and focused dashboards for each audience. Employers were also equipped with a self-service portal for managing users, adjusting and adding activities, and manipulating data, and a mechanism for extracting and sharing reports.

Can an App Get You on Your Feet?

Proof of concept is a solution that delivers on its intended purpose, and does it with style. Hotseat’s been vetted by none other than the American Heart Association. Results of their use reflected 78% engagement, 76% of users more mindful of their time spent sitting, and 67% taking more activity breaks. Hotseat’s design and effectiveness have received awards and recognition from The Webbys, The International Academy of Visual Arts, Partners Healthcare, and WEGO Health.

In early 2016, Mad*Pow acquired ownership of the application to further develop, license and implement Hotseat for commercial and research endeavors.

Learn more about the Behavior Change and Motivational Design disciplines and how they're applied to other projects.

Want to offer your customers a better experience?

Let's work together: Contact Us Today

Turning Short Breaks Into Meaningful Activity


Design firm Mad*Pow acquires employee wellness app HotSeat View the App in The Apple Store (Passcode Required)
Dustin DiTommaso SVP Behavior Change Design   Contact Dustin
Amy Cueva Founder and Chief Experience Officer   Contact Amy
Rich Woodall Senior Visual Experience Designer & Illustrator   Contact Rich
Brandon Baselice Senior Art Director

Related Articles
Mad*Pow and Hotseat Take Home Honors from W3 Awards Show Mad*Pow Works With context to Put Hotseat Under Employees Interview with Dustin DiTommaso of Mad*Pow: Explaining “Behavior Change”
Newsletter Sign Up

Mad*Pow HQ

27 Congress Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Office: 603.436.7177
Fax: 603.386.6608


179 Lincoln Street
Boston, MA 02111

Office: 617.426.7177


Complete Sale Inquiry Form


Sales: solutions
Press: communications

Get in Touch