One could certainly say that Scandinavians have a lot of things figured out. They consistently take top honours when it comes to prosperity, education, and happiness ratings, so we’d probably be wise to take their advice. We’ve posted before about the delightful, Danish notion of hygge (or the art of getting cozy). Our new Scandinavian obsession is the Swedish tradition of fika. Read on about why we love the idea, and why we think everyone should incorporate it into their workday.
What is Fika?
There is no literal translation for fika in English, but it is defined as “a concept in Swedish culture with the basic meaning to have coffee, often accompanied with pastries, cookies or pie.” But ask any Swede, and they will tell you that fika-ing (yes, you can use the word as a noun or a verb) is about more than just grabbing a coffee; it’s a moment to leave work behind. Traditionally taken twice a day (first at 10am and then at 3pm), it’s not a strategy for more meetings with coffee in hand, it’s a chance to actually relax with co-workers. Despite Sweden being the world’s third-largest coffee drinking nation, Fika doesn’t necessarily even have to involve coffee—tea or lemonade are popular alternatives. The point is to slow down and connect.
Why Should I Fika?
Work is inherently a social activity. It has to be; even if you don’t work around a lot of people that often, you do work for people. At the same time, people are getting busier than ever, and our work increasingly involves more technology and less interaction every day, so that can lead to more isolation in the workplace. When we’re not connecting with the people we spend so many hours a day with, there is potential for loneliness.
Studies have shown that loneliness and isolation at work can not only lead to depression, they can kill your job performance. Recognition, gratitude, encouragement, emotional support, and camaraderie are all important factors to finding fulfilment at work, and life in general, so nurturing these things with regular personal connection can increase productivity, improve motivation, and foster company loyalty. The stripped down, casual style of fika breaks can even lead to new ideas and more creative problem solving.