“Flow of work is concerned with the way, work moves along from one operation to another-the quantity or volume of work gone through, the rate at which it moves along and the smoothness of its passage.” The flow of work should be so planned that there is no interruption in the flow of work and there is no wastage of time of the staff waiting for the work.

A steady, constant flow of work following a routine results in high efficiency. The study of the flow of work is basically a study aimed at greater efficiency in every sphere of office activity so that not only costs are cut down but delays are also eliminated.

Flow of work refers to the movement of office work from one place to another place without any interruption. If the flow of work is interrupted in its movement, there will be waste of time. In offices, some works reach the final stage quickly, while others move here and there in the whole organization, perhaps for days.

Such obstruction affects the flow of work. Office manual must be drawn up in such a way as to enable the flow of work through many hands.


If the first man is quick, the second man slow and the third quick, then naturally the third man has to wait for the work; i.e. he has to waste his time because the flow of the work is interrupted by the second man. The following obstructions may cause interruptions:

1. Information required is not readily available and therefore the work is held up.

2. Unequal volume of work to be done causes delay in the flow of work.

3. Non-availability of work in hand means his job time is wasted.


4. Unnecessary movements of papers (or file) here and there in department affect the speedy result.

5. Laziness and carelessness of the staff will result in slowing down the flow of work.

6. Visitors to the office, calls from supervisors, telephone calls, etc., interrupt the work.

7. Lack of careful planning and backward movement of work affect the flow of work.


8. Unequal times required for different operations.

9. If the amount of work to be done by different workers of the same rank is unequal, the person who is burdened with a greater load of work will slow down the flow of work.

10. If work has to pass through wrong or unnecessary points, there may be a slowdown in the flow.

Straight Line Flow of Work


“Straight-Line flow of work is a method in which the work while progressing from one operation to another should follow a course which is approximately, or nearly as may be possible, a straight line.”

This means that the work must always move forward from the beginning to the end of each operation. As far as possible, the straight-line flow of work, which involves very few backward movements, should be adopted.


1. Speed of work increases.


2. The method reduces messenger work.

3. Papers are rarely lost.

4. Keeps clerks and executives at their desks.

Office operations are continuous and repetitive in nature. Waste of time, in any stage results in a serious waste of time. Delay breeds delay. Therefore, the flow of work must be quick and continuation without interruption.