Fika is a Swedish term for a coffee break, not the regular grab a coffee and report to your desk coffee break, but an actual break. It is a time set apart for teammates to bond with each other while on the job, a time to ease during working hours. It is a Swedish culture that allows workers to take time off work to interact with one another. It is coffee, along with a sweet snack. But fika is beyond the meal, it is an attitude, a way of life. To the Swedes, fika is a ritual, something that has to be done. It is so common that project managers don’t question team members during the break. In fact, in Sweden, team members are allowed up to two fika breaks during working hours.
Sweden is famous for maintaining healthy work-life among workers. The workers are allowed some of the most extended vacation periods in the world. How does this affect the productivity of workers? In a survey of employees in 38 countries, Sweden was ranked 11th, ahead of Japan and Korea; two countries famous for long working hours.
Advantages of Fika
We all know taking breaks are essential, but fika is not your regular break. Fika is break in work; your regular breaks are absence from work. Fika is communication with team members over a cup of coffee during work. So here we look at some of the ways fika improves team productivity.
- Improved Communications: Fika” is aimed at taking a slight break during work. Team members don’t talk much about work during Fika but instead take the time out to bond with one another. It is good because it takes away the pressures from the job and allows members to bond more. They talk about their personal lives. Occasionally, project managers could join team members on the fika table to improve communication between leaders and workers, which in turn is very important for the overall growth of the project. However, because it is a working environment, topics from the job may arise.
- Increased Productivity After The Break: Research has established that breaks enhance productivity and creativity. Breaks also improve concentration levels. Often the best ideas come when we rest, after consciously thinking for a long time, it could just come up in your head during a shower, or, during that coffee break. But in all, coffee breaks help you resume at your desk with a clearer head, after having a good conversation with co-workers and team members.
- Stress Reliever: Going for that coffee break may be what you need after sitting in front of a screen for a long time. The breath of fresh air away from the screen can all you need. Conversation with team members could also relieve you from stress. Everyone is usually all chatty, and there will undoubtedly be a couple of jokes to ease your stress. You know how just speaking with someone could help you feel better even if you don’t tell them you are stressed, it only comes out naturally.
- Increased Concentration Levels: You know how all you need sometimes is a walk to clear your head? Yes, that is similar to what we have in fika. Concentration levels tend to drop after spending much time in front of the screen. The entire break may be all you need to get your head back into the task.
- Increased Energy Levels: After the break, energy levels are usually higher. The increased energy levels come as a result of the snack and chat with team members. Increased energy levels mean more energy put into the project.
- Improved Mental Health: Taking regular breaks can help to tackle stress build-up. Stress build-up can affect mental health. As a project manager, one thing you don’t want from your team members is their mental health to be affected.
- A Better Attitude To Work: When you have sufficient breaks, you don’t necessarily complain during working hours. One of the issues with working straight is that a lot of workers tend to lose concentration at some point or the other there are a lot of problems associated with working straight. You are stressed, and you want working hours to be over, not necessarily putting your best into the project. But fika helps to correct a lot of these. It is a period of a break, a period where you interact with teammates and team leaders. The break and interaction help to improve your attitude to work. It helps to bring your head into the project, and ultimately there is an improved attitude to work.
Fika is gaining global recognition. So as a project manager, how can you organize a successful fika?
- Include Fika on Your Team’s Schedule: While it may seem impossible to include anything in an already clustered program, the project manager has to find a way to add fika in the schedule of the team.
- Remove Yourself From Your Physical Workspace: Again, the purpose of fika is not just to eat; it is a bonding experience. If it was just coffee and snacks, you could easily get that and drop it on the desk of your team members, but that will not be fika as there are still within their physical working space. As a project manager, all your team members must be away from their working area.
- Encourage Interactions: fika is about interactions. Get your team members talking. Get everyone chatting. Make sure everyone is involved. Ask questions, make jokes, talk about music, movies, sports, basically anything that keeps the conversation going.
- Limit The Use of Gadgets: if all team members are using their phones or laptop, the purpose of the break is defeated. As a project manager, you have to limit the use of devices and gadgets during fika. Although, if you have people in your team that work from home, you could video call them during fika.
As a project manager, some challenges may be experienced when trying to implement fika:
- Indifference to Change: Since fika is looking like the way forward for both individual and the team, some team members will have issues accepting the idea. People tend to hold on to what they know and are somewhat resistant to proposed changes.
- Diet Concerns: They are concerns over the choice of food at fika; coffee and a sweet snack, usually cake or chocolate. Team members are generally concerned over the effect an increase in sugar can have on their health. Well, fika is less about the food and more about the experience, so basically any snack of choice can be taken at fika not necessarily cake or chocolate. People can even engage in fika over video calls. All that matter is the bonding.