Meet the walkers: C'tri
We ask walkers taking part in the Step Count Challenge why they decided to take part and what walking means to them.
In this Meet the Walkers blog post, we meet C’tri from team They See Me Strollin. We hear how C'tri's digital technology skills have motivated colleagues and nurtured some healthy competition during the spring Step Count Challenge.
Since high school I’ve always had a natural draw towards programming, databases, and interconnectivity. Traditionally such things are conducive toward staying indoors and not getting enough sunlight, and certainly not being a direct contributor to a steps challenge!
However, despite that I have found ways in which these skills enabled my workplace to get more out of our participation in the 2021 Step Count Challenge. Leaving aside the technical details, there were a number of pieces of information I wanted to know, to satisfy my competitive nature, and as a means of encouraging my opponents, er… colleagues.
I shall leave aside talks of mysterious and arcane things like Python Libraries, Web Scraping, APIs, Pivot Tables, and Webhooks, and summarise that I taught a computer how to do a daily announcement of how many steps each team had recorded in the last 24 hours. Time well spent.
Here’s how it looked a couple weeks ago after a particularly impressive day:
As well as a daily announcement, my application also makes pretty graphs. Who doesn’t love pretty graphs?
Being able to look back and have a record of it tells us the story of the challenge. We can see the back and forth battle between The Walking Dread and Blues with Shoes, Red Step Redemption falling by the wayside to tangle with The Empire Strides Back, whilst Step Ops start closing the gap toward second.
And of course, where were you the day that Walkaholics briefly overtook They See Me Strollin?
This all may seem colourful and cozy, but there have been tangible real world benefits as a result of this. You see, my organisation is still working from home across the UK. The daily watercooler chatter about “Did you see R’s 200 mile cycle over the weekend?” and “Fancy a team trip to the pub via the beach?” can’t really happen in-person.
But, with daily updates going into our step challenge Slack (instant messaging for the workplace) chat, we saw the following positive impacts:
- More people talking about the step count, across teams.
- People waking up to see the changes in the standings were more motivated to go out and walk/run/cycle/swim.
- Our local organiser, who had planned to manually do this weekly, had his time freed up for other tasks.
I personally have been way more engaged and motivated to win each time I see that the team immediately below my own got more steps than we did the day before. I feel the rest of my team feels the same way!
With the increased social impact of the steps challenge, we’ve also seen an increased physical impact among participants - and whilst it’s impossible to know how much, Sarah, our Director of Engineering said:
"The visualisation of progress in graph form, and the daily reminder of step counts in the slack channel thanks to C'tri's awesome app, has directly contributed to my engagement in the Step Count challenge. It reminds me to actually post my steps (I'm manually tracking and submitting) but also acts as a gentle nudge to get up and walk about, which I appreciate."
I’d call that a win :)
For the technically curious among you, you can find the source code and installation instructions at https://github.com/Ctri-The-Third/StepCount-scraper. It’s written in Python, uses Google Sheets as the “database” for storage. Rather than transforming the raw data in code, I set up a pivot table in the Sheets to structure it appropriately, and it uses a Slack webhook to post the announcements.