Embracing “Hygge” in Your Workspace

Did you know that in a world-wide happiness survey, Denmark wins almost every year? With the long, dark winters, it can be difficult to imagine why. The Danish will quote many reasons, such as a stable economy, a society built on trust, their excellent work-life balance, but also the unwritten, social laws of hygge and Jante’s law.

Jante’s law can ultimately be summarized as never assuming you’re better than anyone else, or never behaving like you’re smarter than anyone else. While no workspace is made worse by embracing this sense of humility, in this blog, we wanted to focus on the concept of hygge and how you can apply it to the workplace.

Hygge: (entry 1 of 2) noun: a cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable.

Hygge: (entry 2 of 2) adjective: invoking or fostering a sense of coziness, contentment, and well-being.

Online, hygge is often used to describe a home’s aesthetic, often characterized by lighting candles and having plush blankets easily accessible, but culturally it is so much more than that, which is great, because candles and open flames are generally not welcome in most office spaces- except for those who work from home.

Socially, hygge is recognized as more than a feeling; it is a conscious, prosocial act- to be present in the moment, to create a kinship with those around you, and to embrace the simple pleasures that life brings us. How can you foster familiarity, contentment, and simplicity in the workplace?

Here’s a few ideas:

1. Keep break areas well supplied with cozy drinks.

Hygge is all about utilizing the simple joys to get through the cold of winter. There truly is no joy so simple as your favorite hot beverage to warm you up as you come into the office. Whether that is coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, it is a simple way to add a perk to your day.

2. Spruce up the break room!

A break room is an excellent place to add an element of comfort and coziness, since it doesn’t have to conform to corporate approved color schemes, or franchise approve decor. Adding a live plant, or a centerpiece bouquet of flowers can liven up the whole room and remind colleagues that the mid-winter doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is bleak.

3. Have an ugly sweater day or a chunky scarf day!

Did you think those ugly sweaters were just for Christmas? Think again! Encouraging coziness amongst your colleagues is an easy way to add an element of fun the to mundane. Alternatively, you could encourage knit beanies, or host a mitten show-and-tell. The important thing is to have fun with it and enjoy the little things.

4. Encourage employee bonding.

Help your team get to know each other by asking them to prepare a statement about themselves for before your next meeting, or have them prepare their favorite joke, or play a simple game! If COVID numbers are low in your area, or it is not a major concern, consider bringing back the joys of an office potluck. Start a book club, or host a though provoking movie analysis!

5. Do something in the service of others.

Show your team that you care by doing something small for them. If it snows, and your team parks outside, give them a few minutes to go outside to scrape their windows and start their cars before the end of their shift. If you wanted to go for a bigger gesture, you could scrape their windows as a surprise, or suggest that you all volunteer somewhere together.

Winter can be a difficult time for many people, but hopefully, a hygge mindset will help foster your team and your community. Stay tuned for more posts from the Notepad.