Should Using Stairs Be A Company Policy?

Should Using Stairs Be A Company Policy?

“Take the stairs instead of the lift” is one of the most familiar pieces of advice to anyone trying to lose weight or improve their general fitness. It’s a fine individual goal, but should it be corporate policy?

Picture by cmdrfire

An exhibition centre I visited recently boasted (on a poster near the urinal, no less) that it had adopted a regular day each week where staff were asked to always use stairs rather than take the lift. The motivation wasn’t staff fitness, but to demonstrate the company’s green credentials by reducing its electricity usage. It’s a fair bet that the lift ban doesn’t happen on a set-up day for a major exhibition, but it’s still an interesting concept.

Now, far be it from me to knock either reduced electricity use or healthier workers (which would doubtless be a motive in the insurance-obsessed USA). Nonetheless, there’s part of me that thinks setting this kind of goal as corporate policy might be counter-productive in some circumstances (“I work hard enough for this company without climbing six flights of stairs,” said the office grouch).

Does your workplace have similar rules? Is it a good idea or a nasty case of greenwash? Tell all in the comments.


  • I wouldn’t mind being able to take the stairs rather than the lift in my office building, except that the only stairs are fire exit stairs and thus you can only go DOWN, but not UP. (Well you could go up, but you’d not be able to get onto your desired floor as the doors have no handles on the stairwell side).

  • Simple answer, no.

    Complex answer, as far as companies encroaching on your civil liberties goes, forcing someone to exercise is not acceptable. Sure it should be encouraged, give incentives, but forcing someone to do something isn’t a good thing.

    While it may improve people’s health, your productivity will go down due to resentment from the employee, whether intentional or not.

    I know myself that if I was forced to do this I’d be taking my employer straight to the EEO commission. Why? I have a lower back problem meaning that would be inflamed by continual use of the stairs. While stair exercise is great for healthy people, for people with injuries and/or weight problems this can cause complications.

  • A mere suggestion would likely work, perhaps a sign on the lift saying ‘Taking the stairs is good for you and saves energy’. We use a similar method with recycling in our office where ‘new’ files/dividers/paper etc are available, but also reclaimed of same, with a sticker saying ‘Do you really need to use new? Reclaim!’ And it works!

  • I’m in a government department in Brisbane and in the coming months they’ll be allowing us to use the fire escape stairs wells (currently alarmed) instead of just the lifts. We’ve been told other departments will be trialling it as well.

    I think its a great idea, especially since I have the fire escape far closer to me than the lift.

  • Personally I think only going one or two floors in the lift should be punishable by death!! Only kidding, but nothing peeves me more than people getting in the lift when there are perfectly good stairs nearby. Oh, and obviously some people can’t (for health, etc. reasons) but a majority have no excuse.

  • My boss put a sign on the lift doors “Lifts are very slow today because of technical problems” for a few days… and everyone got used to using the stairs. Win!

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