Hygge (pronounced hue-guh), the Danish concept of wellness or coziness, has found takers all over the world. Not surprising, since the Happiness Research Institute has repeatedly ranked the Danish among the happiest people on earth. The art of Hygge encourages people to relax, slow down, and savor the things that keep them happy and comforted. The Danish workplace too, places importance on feelings of calm, balance, and joy. This is good news, especially at a time when workplaces are worried about rising employee stress.

While Hygge does focus on relaxation, it also involves spending time with others and creating a positive vibe through communication and camaraderie. Here are small ways in which you can embrace it at work:

  1. Have lunch or coffee together. Most of us have lunch at our desks or bring that cup of coffee alone, using that extra time to go through documents. It can also be a great time to just relax. However, once in a while, pick up that lunch and enjoy it with your colleagues. The camaraderie can leave you refreshed and make you more productive. Says Cornell University researcher Kevin Kniffin, “From an evolutionary perspective, eating together has a long tradition as a kind of social glue.It is an intimate act than looking over an Excel spreadsheet together. That intimacy spills back over into work.”
  2. Redefine meetings. The Danish concept of Hygge at work also values the comforting and bonding power of food. Cakes, coffee, and chocolate have a special role to play. Bring a bit of Hygge into a morning meeting with mugs of coffee and cookies to go with it. When call-conferencing is not required, skip the meeting rooms for a team discussion at the office pantry or the nearby coffee store. Relaxed meetings help people let their guard down and think creatively. Even walking meetings can be effective at bringing down personal barriers while covering the agenda items.
  3. Personalize your workspace. Hygge is all about creating a sanctuary for yourself and your team, so you can perform at your best. That’s why comforting elements that help personalize your space or your team area can work wonders. Think area rug or a bean bag in your team bay. At your own desk, photos of your loved ones and other personal effects can help add a gentle touch. Include pictures from team outings as well. Research shows that personalizing workspaces actually gives people more control, and hence they are happier, more motivated, and more productive.

Hygge may seem like a simple, home-oriented concept. But applying it to work helps teams thrive in an always-on culture by making it more relaxed, collaborative, and less taxing.

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