Do you flow?


Flow. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Maybe you haven’t. But flow is defined to be when a person experiences a state of consciousness where they are totally absorbed in their work, and enjoy it immensely. It’s sounds pretty good and something that both employees and employers should probably chase for the sake of increased productivity levels and worker happiness!


Interestingly, the concept of flow is reserved more for the workplace. People report states of flow occurring more commonly in their work, in comparison to all the other activities they choose to do outside of work.


For example, surgeons often report experiencing flow when they are completely absorbed in an 8 hour surgery. When it happens the concept of time often evaporates, as does any feelings of anxiety or stress.


So how can you experience a state of flow? The million dollar question…


Well, flow occurs when a perfect balance is found between the challenge that a task presents, and a person’s ability to perform the task. The task can’t be too easy or too hard, and you have to perceive it this way for it to all work. There needs to be some sense of ‘I can do this’ but that it’s still a challenge. Additionally, research suggests there are three core elements in flow;


  1. Intrinsic motivation – this is not just enjoying your work enough to be motivated to do it, but also being fascinated by it and deriving pleasure from it!
  2. Absorption – this is total, 100%, uninterrupted concentration on the task at hand.
  3. Enjoyment – and this one is obvious – no definition required!


So, it’s a pretty special experience and perhaps not something that is possible for every person to experience every day. But next time you catch yourself in a brief moment of flow, feel free to smile. Because it’s likely indicative of the fact that the current task at hand meets your professional skill level at a perfect balance. And what a lovely place to be!


We asked our software development team when they are in flow…


And interestingly, it all revolved around development of ‘new’ Safety Champion modules. Our developers spoke about the ‘challenge’ associated with getting it all to work, all to fit together. Figuring out how to deliver what we need the user functionality to be, in alignment with the brief from the health and safety consultants, and with their own skill level in whichever platform they use. This is the moment they most commonly experienced it. Makes sense.


When do you flow?