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Combating sedentary behaviour in the office, one step at a time

  • Blog
  • 11th Oct 2023

Four out of ten French people spend more than 7 hours a day sitting down and 95% of us do not exercise enough to protect our health from the consequences of this sedentary lifestyle. That’s why Paris 2024 is trying to encourage Parisians to “move more,” starting in their own offices by encouraging the use of stairs.

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) partnered with Paris 2024 in this challenge. After observing and interviewing the Paris 2024 teams, BIT researchers and designers designed interventions to promote the use of stairs internally. 

A tailor-made proposal

Before BIT’s intervention in the Paris 2024 offices, some individuals simply did not know where the stairs were located. A signage system from the building entrance to the stairs was therefore installed to change habits.

The signage on the floor imitates athletics tracks, thus taking up a theme dear and familiar to Paris 2024 staff and athletes. It extends onto the walls of the staircases. Each track or coloured strip corresponds to a floor. On each floor, employees can read the time required to reach each floor from the ground floor (approximately 30 seconds per floor).

Attractive and motivating design

Incentive messages have been placed at strategic locations, for example, with signs around lift buttons to remind employees that it is not too late to use the stairs

This visual around the lift buttons indicates the location of the stairs (“there is still time to take the stairs / they are behind you“). 

The stairs were also made more attractive, with visuals on the floor, walls and doors of the stairs, and encouraging messages on the steps to create positive emotions among employees and increase their motivation.

And it worked! 

Stair use increased by 111% after the intervention (an average of 7 more passages per hour). An effect of this size is far greater than what is found in similar experiments

76% of employees consider that one or more of the interventions implemented (signage, messages, etc.) have had an impact on their use of the stairs .

These results are promising, and show the impact that solutions designed specifically for an organisation can have. We hope that other organisations will be able to use this as a model for combating physical inactivity in their offices. 

If you want to take action against physical inactivity in your organisation, the Behavioural Insights Team can help you create tailored interventions to meet the needs of your employees and encourage behaviours that benefit their wellbeing and health ( 

To find out more about active design and the actions carried out by Paris 2024, you can contact