The Swedes' method for job satisfaction is through a cup of coffee

Would the workplace be more successful if we all took a coffee break together? The workers in Sweden certainly think so. There, working life has long revolved around “fika”, a ritual held once or twice a day, where employees put down their phones, laptops and all work-related talk, to gather for a cup of coffee, pastries or other snacks. Swedish workers and their managers say that this cultural tradition helps with employee well-being, productivity and innovation, by aiding clear thinking and strengthening a sense of togetherness.

Now, when bosses and employees are trying to revive office life and point to the lack of job satisfaction as one of the problems, the enthusiasm for “Pika” permeates other workplaces as well.

The Grand, a platform in New York for leadership and career coaching, invites all remote employees (ten in number) every second Friday for coffee and a Zoom conversation. London-based Hubble, a site for finding flexible employment avenues, adopted the tradition after a Swedish employee introduced it to them.

“Everyone has an excuse to disconnect and let their hair down,” said Tushar Aggarwal, CEO of Hubble, where employees gather on the last Thursday of every month for pastries, a little chat about patient matters, and of course – coffee.

Even a new product – for part-time office space under new contract terms – was born out of the discussions that took place during “Pika”, says HR director Charlie Bustier. It is now one of the fastest growing revenue streams, he said.

The new hubble product that was born from the discussions that took place during “Pika” / photo: screenshot from the site

No running to Starbucks

The pressure to make changes in the daily routine is especially acute in the US. Employees constantly testify that they feel less engaged at work compared to the periods before the corona, according to Gallup data.

In addition, connecting with office colleagues has become more difficult and less of a high priority for many people in the world of hybrid work. Some employees fear that the lack of social cohesion harms the corporate culture and activity.

In the routine “Pika” at The Grand, the employees take turns hosting and leading a relaxed conversation or some board game or a drawing competition. The Grand’s co-founder Ray Wang says the “Pika” allows her to spend time with her employees, and it makes her a better leader. “Learning more about their passions and their talents helps me understand and collaborate with them.”

The “Pika” ceremony involves much more than going to Starbucks. It is meant to be a deliberate break that gives time and space for people to connect. Many Swedish companies have made “Pika” compulsory on the working day, and the Swedish Embassy in Washington conducts “Pika” for employees once a week. IKEA, in order to promote the Upphetta coffee machine on the company’s website, praises the benefits of “Pika”: “When we disconnect for a moment, our productivity increases significantly.”

“Pika” at the Swedish Embassy in Washington / Photo: Swedish Embassy

“‘Pika’ is where we talk about life, talk about everything except work,” said Mikael Dahlen, a lecturer in well-being, well-being and happiness at the Stockholm School of Economics. According to him, this ritual motivates the trivsel – a term that means a combination of prosperity and enjoyment of the workplace. This term is so fundamental in Swedish workplaces that many companies in Sweden have well-being committees, he said.

Dahlen says that he suspects that the decrease in “picks” in the office during the Corona period contributed to a sharp decrease in the enjoyment of work by Swedes. Only slightly more than half of the workers in Sweden reported a high level of job satisfaction in 2022, according to Eurostat, compared to 69.5% in 2017.

Fertility factor

There is some evidence that community coffee breaks increase productivity. In a study of call center workers at Bank of America, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that teams that scheduled 15-minute breaks together were 18% more communicative within the team than teams that took their coffee breaks individually.

The annual employee turnover rate, similarly, was 12% for the teams that took coffee breaks together compared to 40% for the other employees. Overall, teamwork that was strengthened by shared breaks led to an increase in annual productivity estimated at $15 million, said study leader Ben Weber.

“Pika” at an Israeli startup company. Increasing productivity among employees / Photo: Eyal Yitzhar

“People who are in a cohesive social group enjoy higher levels of trust,” said Weber, who has since founded a behavioral analytics company called Humanyze.

Hubble employees take turns baking and receive a stipend of about $20 for groceries for the company’s monthly “pika”. Last week, 26 staff members gathered in a community space far from the tables and the Fashion Spice.

Kate Mehigan, Accounts Manager, brought home-made arancini balls, and Elliott Dixon, Accounts Team Leader, a Basque cheesecake prize from a recipe he found online. Some people were playing ping-pong.

Fleur Sylvester, an account manager at Hubble, used the time to quiz one of her colleagues about training tips for a half marathon. Sylvester said that when she joined the company more than a year ago, the meetings were a very successful way to connect faces with names.

“You get a chance to talk to other team members that you don’t get to talk to on a daily basis,” Sylvester said. “When you’re online, you don’t have the opportunity to have conversations like that.”

“Pika” in the Israeli company Proteinex. Meeting for a break face to face / Photo: Eyal Yitzhar

Peter Linder, director of North American thought leadership at the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, recently introduced the idea of ​​”Pika” to Jason Inskeep, a senior director at management consulting firm Slalom. The two men initially met in a joint panel discussion, and Linder wanted to congratulate Inskip on his new job at Slalom. He sent Inskip a Zoom invitation for a 20-minute one-on-one “Pika”. “I didn’t know what it was,” Inskip said.

The vibe of the late-morning conversation — which veered from the future of artificial intelligence to Inskip’s own feelings about leading a new corporate culture — was different from the one-on-one business conversations he was used to, Inskip said. Dribbling ideas in a leisurely manner left him feeling positively energized for the rest of the morning. “It was a combination of a coffee break and a conversation like in a barbershop,” he said.

For your attention: The Globes system strives for a diverse, relevant and respectful discourse in accordance with the code of ethics that appears in the trust report according to which we operate. Expressions of violence, racism, incitement or any other inappropriate discourse are filtered out automatically and will not be published on the site.

By Editor

Leave a Reply