Last week, I visited Google's offices in New York. It was my third visit and it was awesome. Now I have two dreams.
Have you seen the comedy movie The Internship about two salesmen who get internship in Google and are playing their way through their working days? After I saw the film I have visited Googles offices in Washington and in New York and I have had great experiences.
I still feel inspire and I believe that we have a lot to learn from the company. Why is Google such a great place to work and what is the secret of the success? After my third visit I believe I know the answer. Maybe I am wrong, but maybe I will reveal the secret in this blog?
But first I will tell you a little bit about myself. I am a woman in her best age: 50 years and singel. The four most important people in my life is my mother and my three sons.
I have published 6 books but the most important book is called «flow in everyday life- navigation through stress, chaos and boredom». I wrote this book together with Frans Ørsted Andersen.
We believe that you can be in flow without being creative, but you cannot be creative without being in flow. But what does it really mean to be in a state of flow and what can facilitate flow in modern life?
Google knows. I have seen it. Three times. Another book I have written is about running. Inactivity is one of the biggest health challenges in the world. Google also know this.
Last week I visited new York together with two teachers and their 33 students. We were all excited about the visit to Google. Google has been voted the world's best workplace for a number of years in a row. How come, my students asked. See, listen and learn, I replied. And so we went there together to the red brick building nearby Chelsea marked.
The first things we learned from our guide was that Googlers play a lot at work. Because they believe that play leads to people being creative and innovative. Yes, this is the secret, I think. Many of the 5000 employees in Google in New York work long hours. If they are hungry or tired there is plenty of places to eat and relax. And everything is free. The healthy stuff is in the open but you have to open and the potatochrisps and sugary stuff is hidden.
Google would like the employees to keep fit but always use positive words to stimulate the employees to stay active.
In Google New York there were gyms, playgrounds with Lego, libraries, offices built in trains, exhibitions, games room and other fun things to see and observe. My students were impressed. I know why the employers have chosen to have so much fun stuff here. They want employees to be healthy and happy and they want them to flourish.
Flow is briefly explaining the creative state you are in when you are so engaged in what you are about to forget about time and place. This affects both efficiency, productivity and the results. I have also seen it in LEGO. That is not surprising because the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csiksentmihalys who is behind the flowtheory has been involved with that Danish company.
In Google, the keywords are flow and trust. Google believes that people perform at their very best when they are in flow. It's not about getting your employees to run faster, work faster and sweat more - but to help them utilize their skills, abilities and skills. In order to flourish, employees need to have room for play and support to to use their resources in the best possible way. That is the key to the sucess, I believe.
Research shows that in spite of increasing stress in our society some people manage to create their own flow zones in the middle of chaos. To experience flow on an individual lever you must find a balance between challenge and skills. Flow works as a mental retreat where there is no room for negative feelings or thoughts.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has contributed pioneering work to our understanding of happiness, creativity, human fulfillment and flow. According to Csiksentmihaly flow involves:
· A challenging activity that requires skills: This requires a fine balance: too high a challenge will produce anxiety; too easy an activity will produce boredom.
· Clear goals and feedback: Good, immediate feedback allows the individual to know they have succeeded. Such knowledge creates ‘order in consciousnesses.
· Concentration on the task at hand: When one is thoroughly absorbed in an enjoyable activity there is no room for troubling thoughts.
· A sense of control: Here the actuality of being in control is not as important as the subjective sense of exercising control in difficult situations.
· Loss of self-consciousness: The individual feels he or she is merging with the
After my third visit in Google I have two dreams. One of them is that my sons will work here in the future. The other dream is that I will be invited to speak about flow in Googles headquarters in the future.
After 2011 I have met Mihaly Csiksentmihalyis many times and I have also shared some of my findings with the International Positive Psychology Assosiation.
Here are some of our findings on what makes people flow in a modern life:
Variation: doing something new – working in a new office, doing a new activity, doing the activity in a different way, at a new time, etc.
Travelling/commuting: working on the bus, in the train, on the ferry, in the plane, etc. (relation to “The Plateau Experience”(Buchler, 2011)
Activities in Nature. Organized or more informal activities in nature seem to be able to facilitate flow (also silence, quietness, distance, no demands)
Clicking: being together with persons with whom we click facilitates collective flow (Brafmann & Brafmann).
Functional room design/ construction: the workshop, the IT class, the cafe, etc.
Good work habits: do one activity at a time, finish one activity before starting a new one, etc.
Intensity variation: Organizing / structuring the day in periods of changing/ varying intensity – from high intensity to low intensity
Controlling the media/ the IT gadgets – not letting them control you
Establish quiet zones / periods where you are off-line and / or zones / periods with no gadgets.
Remain capable of having experiences and relatonships that are direct and perceived without media and IT
So folks, go with the flow. You may enjoy where it leads.my homepage