A Danish-Inspired Workspace: Bringing Hygge to The Office
By now you’ve probably heard of the term ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hue-gah’), whether on Pinterest, in the bookstore, or bantered about on radio. It’s the feel-good Danish sensation all about creating time and space for cosiness and contentment, conjuring up images of wooly blankets and steaming mugs of tea. Meik Wiking, author of ‘The Little Book of Hygge’, tells us that “hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home,” and, importantly for us business types, it’s about “giving your responsible, stressed-out achiever adult a break.”
The great thing about hygge is that we don’t have to leave it at home; we can bring these elements of contentment into all parts of our lives. In fact, bringing some hygge into our work day can make us feel more content and relaxed; essential for our productivity and overall life satisfaction.
Here are some ways to bring hygge into your office day, to not only make your space look lovely, but feel better, too.
As humans, we respond to perceptual stimuli in psychological ways. From smell to sight, our senses impact how we think and behave. We can utilise this to our advantage by evoking particular senses in our office space.
I don’t need to tell you how much time you spend looking at your desk space every week, and therefore how important it is to feel good in that space. Just like our homes, bringing our own quirky style and personality into our office can make us feel good. Bearing in mind not to clutter your space, choosing stationary that you enjoy using or setting up a cute pot plant or an inspiration board can instantly make us feel more content. These little touches give us more ownership over our space, and translate to a more positive work experience.
Music is a powerful tool for creating particular atmospheres. If you’re a person who works well with some background tunes, get yourself a playlist on your phone, or chat to your coworkers about getting some tunes going in the office space. Whilst typical hygge recommends more relaxing music, figure out what works for you- be that meditation tracks or Arcade Fire.
The maître d’ of hygge, delicious smelling candles create instant cosiness. Get the all-clear from your coworkers and office manager beforehand, and then choose some more musty scents made from soy candles, which emit lower levels of toxic smoke than beeswax candles. Think cinnamon, sandalwood, and vanilla.
A major message of the hygge movement is to take pleasure in the small moments. As Wiking quotes Benjamin Franklin who says, “happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.”
B. The Self
One way to carve out some moments in your work day is to capitalise on the time you already have; your lunch break. Instead of sitting at your desk- or even physically leaving the desk, but mentally still being in work mode- try and give yourself a mindful half an hour to rest and recharge. That can mean going for a walk outside, or sitting in a cozy spot at a cafe and taking in the taste of your food and the atmosphere.
Another trick for creating some personal hygge is to change locations for a period of time. Say you have some research to do- why not make use of the comfy office couch to do it on? Perhaps you’d like to soak in the late sun by setting up on the other side of the building for an hour? Breaking out of your space can also give you a new perspective on challenges, and inspire new solutions and ways of thinking about projects.
Practicing hygge in our office extends to the way we interact as a team. Practices that foster more personable, authentic interactions within your office can create a work environment that’s more supportive, and can even encourage better idea sharing and collaboration. All teams will work a little differently, so finding what works for you and your team might take a bit of time.
The most organic way to bring people together is around food. Inviting everyone for a potluck lunch one day a week is a great way to encourage sharing and collaboration, as well as being a gateway for celebrating cultural diversity amongst your team.
Other ideas include partaking in a group lunch-time yoga session, openly practicing acts of kindness (a plate of home-baked cookies never goes unappreciated), or getting together for some good-old team bonding activities.
No matter how you chose to do it, introducing some hygge into your work life can bring a sense of specialness to your daily routine. Creating a space that’s comfortable and comforting, taking time to savor the small moments, and fostering a cohesive team are all great practices for a healthy work environment, and, moreover, a more enjoyable lifestyle overall.