How to enable a flow state that promotes productivity and wellness for a hybrid workforce

Work distractions are more than small annoyances—they add up to big losses in productivity and morale. Here’s how flexible work models can help employees enter a flow state that drives their best work.

ARTICLE | 5m read
June 10, 2021

Our best work never happens by accident—it’s the product of how we bring together our focus, our knowledge, and our emotions into performing our job as well as we possibly can. This requires us to fully immerse ourselves in a task, entering what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state that “leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other.” Considering this flow state promotes the utmost in both employee productivity and well-being, it is an ideal headspace for your workforce.

Because a flow state is a personal experience for each employee, you want to offer a work environment where each individual can embrace their own preferred way of working and maximize their opportunity to enter flow. This makes flexible work models an especially useful tool to supporting flow states for your workforce, as flexible work and technology give employees more choice over their workspace and schedule. In this article, we’ll explore the value of promoting a flow state for employees, how to best enable a flow state, and ways technology can support flexible work models and entering flow.

Why promoting a flow state benefits the business and employees

The concept of a flow state may sound ambiguous and intangible. While it’s certainly nice to feel that you’re absorbed in doing your best work, are there really measurable improvements in promoting a flow state? The answer is a resounding yes. Employees working in flow states experience greater satisfaction and well-being, which translate to improved productivity, motivation, and company loyalty. The deeper concentration and sense of clarity from a flow state also contribute to employees’ ability to innovate and reduce the chances of distraction. In short, flow state is a force multiplier for doing our best work—benefiting both employees and the business.

It’s also worth discussing the risks of not promoting flow states among employees. First, flow states help prevent distraction. Distractions are detrimental to flow state, which is critical to innovation. Employees who are frequently interrupted report a 9 percent higher exhaustion rate and make more mistakes than those who aren’t distracted. Second, these constant distractions can lead to burnout among employees. Burnt out and fatigued employees are more likely to take sick days and look for new jobs, which explains why fatigue at work and its impact to productivity costs U.S. companies an estimated $136.4 billion every year.

How hybrid work models support entering a flow state

To achieve the benefits of flow states to both your business and your workforce, you want to adopt work models that promote engagement, concentration, and clarity. One of the best ways to do this is through a flexible work model that gives employees maximum agency over where, when, and how they get work done. Also known as hybrid work, a flexible work model enables employees to work some days in a shared office and some days remotely—and 82 percent of executives plan to adopt work models like this as offices reopen.

The key to making flexible work promote flow state is recognizing every employee has their own ideal work space, and that ideal can change based on the work they’re doing. Some employees will accomplish their most focused work in a quiet home office, and others prefer the gentle background noise of a coffee shop. Working parents may find a shared office environment to be better for concentration and collaboration than working-from-home with children around. By using flexible work models, you empower employees to choose the ideal work environment for their current mindset and situation—making it easier for them to enter a flow state.

Using technology to support hybrid work and entering a flow state

As you look for ways to encourage flow states using flexible work, the right technology can play a crucial role. Here are three ways your workspace technology can help enable flow states for flexible workers:

  1. Simplify access to the right tools. A key part of entering flow is simplifying how employees start and engage with their work. One technology that helps here is single sign-on (SSO) access to their apps and data, as this enables employees to securely log in once to a unified workspace instead of repeatedly typing in credentials for each app or portal they enter.
  2. Improve cloud application performance. When remote workers rely on SaaS apps, they need a reliable and consistent experience to fully concentrate on work. Look for network solutions that maximize cloud app uptime and reliability even on slower connections to help your employees enter and stay in a flow state.
  3. Minimize distractions with automation. Any interruption is a threat to flow state, so look for workspace technology that controls and minimizes unnecessary notifications. Using automation and machine learning, you can have a digital assistant handle routine approvals and calendar requests so your employees can remain in a flow state instead of stopping to agree to a meeting. This also helps promote deeper mindfulness that will improve your employee well-being.