I'm searching for software developers for a study on flow theory
Hi folks, I hope this is ok to post.
Flow (also known as 'the zone', and others) is a mental state of profound task-absorption that makes a person feel one with the activity in which they are involved - I'm sure many of you have experienced it.
I'm on a team of people doing research on flow theory, and we focus on people employed in software development. Our goal is to help make the office a better place for employees, by understanding when and why people enter flow. We prepared a survey for some work- and flow related topics, and it would be of great help if you could take and maybe even share it.
Completing the survey only takes 2-5 minutes of your time, and we will handle your anonymous entries with utmost care.
And of course: If you have any questions about flow theory or our study, I would be more than happy to answer them.
Any chance I can read the paper when it's finished?
I will make sure to share the paper with tildes as soon as possible restrictions are lifted. :)
I work in software testing, so would that helpful for your survey?
You are probably in a similar work situation/environment, so yes! Thank you for taking the time.
Is this for a consulting firm or for academia?
This is a project for academia. We are under the umbrella of the second largest university of applied sciences in Austria.
I have mixed feelings on the concept of "flow". I have debated numerous times with other developers on the "sacredness" of getting developers to achieve their "flow".
IMO getting "flow" is great, but also not the first thing to be optimized for in a team environment. Flow can be seductive, it feels great, it gives a great sense of accomplishment and personal productiveness. However I believe it is entirely possible for a team to be just as productive and even more importantly effective if their focus is on collaboration rather than individual productivity. Which is where I often butt heads with other developers who believe that if they don't achieve flow then they'll never get anything done, or that they won't get it done fast enough.
I do try to minimize interruptions however, even without trying to optimize for flow. There are also different types of interruptions. Interruptions from other developers asking questions are usually quick, or at least interesting. And most importantly, they should be encouraged in a team environment. Interruptions for marketing meetings are usually neither quick nor interesting.
I learned professional development in a company that was heavily into agile development, including paired programming. Sometimes to an absurdly rigorous degree. So I have seen it's shortcomings, but I have also seen it work really well. The thing that I've seen that I don't think a lot of other developers have, Twin Flow. Where a pair of programmers get into "flow" simultaneously at the same computer, and don't realize that several hours have passed.
To offer some kind of summary to this rambling, I think flow has achieved a kind of mystical status among a lot of developers. I think achieving it is less necessary (though always enjoyable) to be productive than some think.
I can agree that devs need to be able to operate under occasional suboptimal conditions where flow doesn't happen every single day.
I think you and your colleagues would enjoy this interview: https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/23146/too-many-interruptions-work.aspx
Your opinion, that interruptions from people in the same working sphere (project team), are less distracting than interruptions from outside the sphere, is definitely supported by research!
Wow that's a really interesting article! I particularly enjoy their phrasing of "work sphere" as opposed to project. I think that's a concept that I've been dancing around for a few years, not realizing what it was I was trying to describe. "Projects" are very formally defined in whatever business I'm in, but probably has several different "work spheres" that overlap. Switching from bug fixing to talking with designers about UI is more of a context switch than another developer asking a question about a framework.
This sounds particularly interesting, I'm going to try and dig this study up.
:edit: found the study paper : https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/extreme%20collaboration.pdf
You are making some good points, and to be honest, this is not something we thought of when we designed the survey. While it's probably too late for this study, I will make sure that transgender people are taken into account in future research. Thanks for the thoughtful feedback!
When do you usually experience flow when working? is a very difficult question to answer as you don't really know you're in it until you're out of it and I don't take note of the time on these things.
It's definitely the question where we expect the most ambiguity, and it is the only freeform question. We thought it would be more useful to let people categorize their tasks themselves, although this can definitely be difficult with such a subtle mental state.
Thanks for the feedback & filling out the survey. It means a lot to us!
No worries! I could do without our open plan office environment - it's the number 1 productivity blocker for me. No Sally, I don't give a fuck about your life, shutup and let me work. Oh, and meetings taking up half a day. This comic illustrates it perfectly.
You ask "What is your sex?" -- are you specifically interested in sex, or should this be asking about gender instead? I suppose probably you are interested in sex because you would like to look at the effect of genetics on flow state? Maybe a subtitle for this question would be useful to clarify exactly how you'd like people to answer this, so you don't end up with a mix of gender and sex information in your data. :)
That is a very good point. I added a describtion to the item - thanks for the feedback!
Just some thoughts: While I do work as a software developer (and have experienced the flow at work) it's much more likely to happen to me while working on my side projects at home. Some of the questions felt weird to answer, because the survey focused so much on professional work