trivago Flow Lab: The Science of Productivity

The average workplace has changed a lot in recent years, offices from Sydney to San Francisco have moved away from clocking-in and cubicle offices and now prefer flexible working hours and standing desks. All of these changes are made in an effort to increase focus and productivity, whilst making employees feel more freedom and less stress.

But what comes next? With all the technology we have available today, how do we take it one step further than bean bags and free lunch? Well, Sören, Kirill and Philipp hope to do so with their project ‘trivago Flow Lab’ which aims to increase our collective productivity through methods ranging from brain-sensing headsets to sensory deprivation.

We caught up with Sören for a sneak peek into the trivago Flow Lab project.

Life at trivago: So, it has a cool name, but what exactly is “trivago Flow Lab”? 

Sören: trivago flowlab is a company-wide program to increase productivity and well-being. It is based on latest scientific research about human peak performance.

The main value of the program is that it extracts the most important ideas out of different disciplines related to human peak performance and make them applicable. It is a highly practical program where the participants directly apply the content to their everyday lives and build new habits.

We also provide a variety of tools to the participants, e.g. floating tank, special VR applications, biofeedback devices.

LAT: Alright! That sounds super futuristic. Could you explain in more detail what floating tanks, special VR applications and biofeedback devices are?

S: Sure! So, a floating tank is a dark, soundproof pod in which people float in warm water for a longer time (usually 1h or more). The idea is to be completely isolated from sensory stimulus, which induces a deeply relaxed state and helps you meditate deeply.

Next to the floating tank we also make use of cutting-edge technology. For instance, we use a brain-sensing EEG headset that connects to an iOS app. With this neurofeedback we can assess brain performance, which allows for personalized brain exercises and data tracking. Also, we experiment with VR applications, which are specifically designed to get you into flow state and to increase focus.

LAT: Cool! So, the program consists of 5 stages over 8 weeks, what do you hope to achieve in each stage of the program? And how exactly do you measure someone’s ‘flow’?

S: Yes, the program consists of different modules e.g. mindfulness, deep work or flow. The idea is to bring the most important aspects from different disciplines together. Similar programs usually focus on just one aspect like mindfulness for example.

The goal of each module is to teach people the most important bits of the discipline and how we can use it to increase productivity. We are not aiming at providing a complete picture of every topic but focus on the stuff that has proven to be most effective.

The second goal of each module is to make people apply something, even if it is just something small. We believe there is not a lack of knowledge about productivity, but a lack of application. And this is exactly the aim of our program – make people apply the knowledge. Even adopting a very small habit can make a difference. Our program is scalable to the whole company, so when we make everyone only 1% more productive, this is definitely worth it.

LAT: Nice, I can certainly see myself starting the day with a relaxing dip in the floating tank! So, how exactly do you measure someone’s ‘flow’? And have you already seen some positive results?

S: We measure the effect of the program through self-reported feedback of the participants. Therefore, we use standardized surveys and anecdotal feedback in retrospective sessions. In addition to that we also collect quantitative biofeedback data. For instance, in the current pilot we work together with a psychologist, who helped us to measure the ability to relax and to focus before the program. After the program, we will do a second measurement and compare it to the baseline. At the same time, we experiment with the Muse headband and the Versus brain sensing device to get additional data.

As we are still in pilot phase it is too early to make any general statements. But the self-reported feedback so far was very positive and participants continued to use some of the techniques even months after the program.

LAT: Awesome! Sören, a massive thank you for sharing this interesting project with us. All the best.

Stefan Durski
Stefan Durski

Stefan is a Marketing and Employer Branding specialist in trivago’s Talent Attraction team.

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