Americans try fika for a weekJuly 29, 2016
This week the Umgås staff adopted the Swedish practice fika into our daily routines.
While Day 1 got off to shaky start (not everyone made it, and more coffee was spilled than actually consumed), each day’s fika seemed to become more natural. We were sure to include all the necessities – coffee, pastries and company.
After a successful week, we have a couple of questions for the Swedes:
- How do Swedes stay in great shape?
- How the heck do they find the time to do this every day?
We learned about the tradition and why Swedes take time to unwind and Fika daily.
From our co-workers’ opinions about the presidential election to who’s tried the most “Best New Restaurants,” we learned a bit more about each other. We learned who in the office is not a coffee drinker and why some of us, namely this writer, shouldn’t have caffeine past 2 p.m. (because said writer was still wide awake at 2 a.m.).
Finally, we learned that taking time out of our days to enjoy a coffee and chat with each other is more doable than we anticipated.
Here’s how our Fika went.
In order to make sure we’d all actually take the time to Fika, a 15-minute “meeting” was added to each of our daily calendars. Most of the team was on board, but also a little nervous about losing the valuable work time. Yes, nervous about losing just 15 minutes of the day. One of our team members even said he felt anxiety knowing he’d be pulled away from work every day.
But at the end of each day, zero deadlines were missed, and we all managed to complete our work. After Day 2, we even started looking forward to our afternoon fika, mostly because of the treats.
Cardamom buns and other traditional Swedish pastries were not available to us, but we did indulge in warm croissants, canelés, muffins and even ice cream sandwiches from local bakeries and shops. (Personally, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but can say without a doubt that I enjoyed the sugary snacks – and I’m confident I gained a pound or two from this experiment.)
Overall project Fika was a success, but will we permanently adopt this Swedish custom at our office?
Here’s what some of our participants had to say:
- We all need a little surge of energy in the mid-afternoon, and Fika makes that a collective exercise, and with a tasty treat to boot.
- The fact that I had a planned break on my calendar was both exciting and refreshing. Fifteen or 20 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but I felt like it gave me a chance to pause, clear my mind for a little bit, then get back to work. The extra sugar early in the afternoon didn’t hurt either!
- I wish every day was Fika Day!