Productivity tips and tricks come in all shapes and sizes – and from every corner of the world. One of our favourite examples of unorthodox productivity, and one that you could even introduce to your own workplace, is the Swedish tradition of “fika”.
In Swedish culture, fika is essentially the idea of taking a coffee-and-cake style break at some point during the working day. According to Helene Henderson, author of The Swedish Table, to partake in a traditional Swedish fika you need “to impress, serve a variety of seven freshly baked items – and be ready to talk about the weather”.
The concept itself can be taken fairly broadly, though. You could fika with friends, family, or colleagues, with or without cake (although we highly recommend the cake), and you can easily switch out coffee for tea, juice, or anything else you feel like.
Fika in the workplace – why?
Fika is a formalised social institution in Sweden, with many workplaces encouraging the tradition and setting aside a specific time for colleagues to take a collective break. Taking a break might go against every one of your instincts when it comes to “getting things done”, but in fact – as any Productivity Ninja will tell you – the effect is exactly the opposite.
Improving productivity with formalised breaks
Formalised work breaks (like fika) demonstrate that managers and employees alike are actively acknowledging the importance of taking breaks. They provide an opportunity to slow down and remove yourself from the working environment for a few minutes, so that you can feel extra refreshed upon your return, and ready to get back to work.
While simply advocating social breaks helps to build better relationships between colleagues, the act of setting aside specific time for socialising helps to prevent other social distractions throughout the day. Colleagues have this break to look forward to, and so find themselves more able to work uninterrupted until their scheduled fika.
Productivity training is all about good attention management, and scheduled breaks are a great way of working around your most and least active levels of attention, to ensure that you get the most from them.
Why not try introducing the Swedish coffee break to your workplace, and see for yourself?