Do the “fika” like the Swedes. It works!

Imagine you are at work and you say to your boss “Hey boss, I am going for a 15 min coffee break!” and she says “Yes, sure. I am coming too!” Wait! Aren’t you supposed to work when at the office? And isn’t your boss supposed to keep an eye on you, to make sure you work and not fool around? Welcome to Sweden! This is the so-called “fika” culture. Fika is another one of those untranslateable Nordic words. It means much more than “go for a coffee” or simply “take a break”. It is something written in the Swedish DNA and spans the social as well as professional life. Let’s break it down!

More than just a cup of coffee!
Fika means drinking coffee as well as enjoying delicious cake and lots of chatting. So there is a sense of togetherness. You can’t go fika alone, rather with friends and family. It requires social interaction despite the popular belief (and true to a certain extent) that the Swedes are introverted, quiet and even unsocial. For them, fika is the same as going to the bar for a beer!

And it goes beyond the circle of family and friends. Fika has now become a habit in businesses too. In some cases, fika breaks are mandatory in order to improve productivity. Stats show that despite the frequent coffee breaks at work, Sweden is among the top countries in work productivity, worldwide.

But fika also improves creativity: going to a cosy cafe with colleagues or even your boss to have a coffee session and talk about work and -most often- also other topics of general interest boosts team bonding and collaborative work outside the limited space of the office. This is why most cafes in Sweden bustle with people with laptops.

Fike goes global!
Swedish giant IKEA was among the first companies to adopt the fika culture. And it was not long after that that the first fika cafes started to pop up around the world. One of the most iconic ones is FIKA cafe chain, by Swede himself Lars Akerlund. His first cafe was found near Central Park in New York. He wanted to change the grab-and-go habit of New Yorkers to sitting at the cafe and enjoying the coffee with kanelbullar (the traditional Swedish cinnamon buns), even if it is just for 10 minutes.