The TRUST Column: How to Achieve Flow in the Workplace

We asked five experts from different fields to write a column about Helsinki Design Week’s this year’s theme ‘TRUST’. Read below what neuroscientist Minna Huotilainen has to say about the subject.

When a team “goes with the flow”, physical changes take place in each team member’s mind and body. They activate, ideas start sprouting, people become more active, and they transmit their enthusiasm to others. This kind of a team is extremely effective. 

This type of situation is not the norm, however. It’s not always easy to weld up a team, especially if team members are very different from each other. However, a few words of comfort: the differences between team members enable results that cover more angles compared to the work by a team of heterogeneous members. Flow may be obstructed by bureaucracy, too: if every little decision must be approved by the highest boss, the team has no actual power to manage work as they see fit. Rewarding individuals gnaws away at team spirit; if you want to reward good performance, reward the whole team. 

In Finland work hierarchy is low, and people have the courage to challenge the boss. That is good. It’s important to get rid of the obstacles that hinder work. Paying attention to the quality of the workspace, functional software and everything else that makes work easier is a profitable investment. So, how can flow be achieved in the workplace? You may want to ask the team members themselves. 


Professor  Minna Huotilainen is a neuroscientist interested in improving learning. She wants to explore learning at school, daycare and the workplace from the point of view of neuroscience.