Leveraging Behavior Change Design to Combat Sitting Disease

Hotseat is a behavior change app delivers a customizable experience where users could use their phones to perform a series of micro-activity breaks throughout the day. 

  • 76% of users were more mindful of their time spent sitting
  • 67% of users took more activity breaks
  • Hotseat has won awards and has been recognized by the WEBBYS, the International Academy of Visual Arts, and Partners Healthcare

Turning Short Breaks Into Meaningful Change

“Sitting disease” is rampant in the workplace. Context, a boutique communication and change management consulting firm, asked Mad*Pow to find a way to get people on their feet. Our solution was Hotseat, a behavior change game that fits in employees’ pockets.

According to the American Heart Association, Hotseat was a home run.

Media has trumpeted the risks of uninterrupted bouts of sitting with articles 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.

Mad*Pow lowered usability barriers by streamlining user setup, setting the activity breaks to a manageable two minutes, and building an interface that synced with user calendars, ensuring breaks occurred during known open times. We 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.

To guide use and provide both employees and their employers with meaningful and actionable information, Mad*Pow created 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.

Proof of concept is a solution that delivers on its intended purpose, and does it with style. The American Heart Association evaluated Hotseat’s stats and found 76% of users were more mindful of their time spent sitting, and 67% took more activity breaks. Engagement was scored at 78%.

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.