Office workers often see videoconferencing as a distraction from solitary work like writing or coding, but a company called Flow Club thinks it could also be a key way to help people get things done.
Its new app, also called Flow Club, lets users host remote coworking sessions designed to help people get into a productive flow state. “It’s basically Peloton for coworking,” says cofounder and CEO Ricky Yean.
While users typically stay on video for an entire hour-long session, they usually speak only for the first five or so minutes, where they introduce themselves and explain what they’ll be working on, and the last five minutes, where they recap what they’ve accomplished. The 50 minutes in between are meant for independent work.
“It’s for modern day workers to approach work with a little bit more intention,” says Yean. “A little more focus.”
Users can join and host sessions with existing coworkers, Yean says, or they can opt to join sessions with friends or ones built around a particular theme, like groups centered on writing or groups aimed at people tackling lots of small tasks. Some sessions are designed to let people take on important tasks early in the day, while others held during the evening let people work on side projects.
Groups are also typically flexible about how much participants are willing to share, so depending on your own preferences and confidentiality needs, you can choose to simply say that you’re going to be, say, answering emails or go into detail about a problem you plan to tackle during your work session, Yean says.
The company announced it raised $5 million in funding, led by Worklife Ventures with participation from Day One Ventures, Soma Capital, Y Combinator, Hustle Fund, Nomo Ventures, Night Capital, and Hyphen Capital. Flow Club users (or, in some cases, their employers) pay $40 per month, and Yean says the hundreds of pre-launch members typically come to about six sessions per week.
In principle, Flow Club is not too different from other timer-based techniques people use to coax themselves to sit down and get work done. But just as people often prefer attending in-person or remote exercise classes to spending a solitary hour on a treadmill or exercise bike, Flow Club members seem to also appreciate the accountability and connections built into sessions on the platform.
“In today’s remote workforce, preserving human connection while finding new ways to stay motivated are key to cultivating productivity and inspiring innovation,” said Brianne Kimmel, founder of Worklife Ventures, in a statement.
Flow Club is not the only virtual coworking tool out there. A service called Focusmate pairs people with “accountability partners” for one-on-one coworking sessions, and other products even offer simulated versions of physical coworking spaces. And, of course, there’s nothing preventing workers from joining friends or colleagues on services like Zoom for a coworking session.
Most likely, no one mode of remote coworking will be right for everyone, any more than one form of workout class is ideal for everyone. Some people may prefer Flow Club’s regular group sessions, while others prefer one-on-one sessions, a more office-like virtual environment, or simply connecting occasionally with peers.
Yean emphasizes that, for those who use Flow Club, the service can be a boon to their employers as well as themselves. Already, some users’ employers pay for their memberships, and Yean says the company plans to enhance its offerings to businesses.
Even as people return to formal offices and coworking spaces, he adds, they’re continuing to use Flow Club, and the tool has lent itself to building new relationships between users. “It’s not an explicit social space, but it tends to lead to a lot of deeper relationships,” he says.
Since hosts can choose to play music, with some choosing instrumental tunes and others curating playlists of songs with lyrics, it’s even a way for people to get to experience each other’s musical tastes. Of course, if you prefer to work in silence or listen to your own tunes, that’s okay too, says Yean: “If it doesn’t work for you, you can always mute the music.”