Creating a feeling of Hygge in your workplace can improve productivity and enhance creativity. Laura tells us all about this piece of Danish culture.
By Laura Rigby
No, I haven’t made a spelling mistake! Hygge, (pronounced “hue-gah”), is a Danish word which describes the feeling of contentedness and cosiness. I relate this to the feeling I get after a sip of a good ol’ Yorkshire brew or the conscious appreciation of a super-tidy and organised filing system (yes, I’m a saddo).
But what has this got to do with work?
Data collected by Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute revealed that 78% of Danish workers value a safe, cosy and casual atmosphere at work, and agree that the concept of hygge should be evidenced in the workplace.
It’s well-known (and common sense!) that happy, satisfied staff are engaged and motivated, which leads to great results and ultimately, organisational success – why wouldn’t you want this?
Ok now I’m interested… tell me more…
How can hygge be evidenced at work, I hear you ask?
There is a tendency for workplaces to feel cold, sterile and unnatural but this doesn’t have to be the case. Why not make the workplace feel more homely? Get rid of the bright strip lights and white walls – inject some colour, low level lighting and add some art work. This will immediately create a more relaxing environment, which in turn should improve employees’ mood and frame of mind.
Meeting rooms needn’t be so formal and rigid… I know that I’m more likely to be innovative in a creative and welcoming space than sitting in an uninspiring and bland boardroom.
Consider community based seating arrangements and break-out zones rather than the traditional bank of desks with privacy screens. If many employees spend prolonged periods sat at their desks, encourage them to bring in homely items, such as family photographs to make their desk environment warmer and create feelings of happiness and calm.
Relax your dress code
We can also achieve hygge by a more relaxed dress-code policy. So many workplaces insist on suits and smart work-wear, but for what reason? If there is little interaction with clients and suppliers, is this necessary? Arguably, not. Of course, I’m not suggesting we all rock up to work in our PJs, but if we’re a little more comfortable in what we’re wearing, we’re more likely to feel relaxed.
Take a well-deserved break
Lunch-time. We’re human, we need food. I can see no legitimate risk to having communal lunch breaks away from the desk! Productivity will surely be increased if employees take time away from their work to focus on their meal, talk and think about things outside of work and re-energise themselves. Humans are naturally social beings and culturally, eating should be enjoyable rather than the fulfilment of a basic human need.
Create an inclusive work environment
Other ways to symbolise hygge and create a good working atmosphere is to reduce the hierarchy within the business. This can be taken literally in terms of a flatter organisation structure or it could mean a change in mindset. Bosses accepting that they don’t have to be untouchable, they’re human too and not robots. Who says the office junior shouldn’t socialise with a director or even offer them advise? A reduction in hierarchical behaviour enables everyone will be able to relate to one another and feel less pressurised to be someone they naturally may not be.
Finally, and perhaps most obviously, work-life balance, or as Meik Wiking (hygge advocate) would say work-life blend… need I go on?
In summary, I hope you’ll see that achieving hygge doesn’t come about from airy-fairy hippie-esque activities. To put it simply, it’s about togetherness and a sense of wellbeing and content – why wouldn’t you want this for your employees? Give it a go and although I’m no betting woman, I’d place a wager on you seeing positive results – both in terms of happiness AND productivity. Enjoy!
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