More than a coffee break paired with mouth-watering sweets, Fika (pronounced fee-ka) is the art of taking a moment to connect, relax and savour with old and new acquaintances the good things in life.
In fact, it is a sacred, even legalized social tradition in Sweden built into many employee contracts. Unlike coffee habits in North America where a “coffee break” is like getting a shot of caffeine on-the-go to stay alert for the next few hours. Fika is about taking a mindful moment, in the midst of a busy day, to connect with those around us. In fact, as Swedish-based conglomerate, Ikea, states on their website “Some of the best ideas and decisions happen at fika.”
“Some of the best ideas and decisions happen at Fika.” – Ikea
At Perked!, our mission is to help people build companies where they love to come to work. A happy and engaged culture starts with creating mindful moments at work. That’s why we want to share Fika with you.
The True Value of Fika
Have you ever worked somewhere where everyone is so focused on their own individual tasks that they don’t even know whom they’re sitting next to? Although that may seem like an indicator of great productivity, in reality, it isn’t. In fact, as five-time CEO Margaret Heffernan presented in her 2015 TED Talk, “What matters is the mortar, not just the bricks.” What she is talking about is social capital, it’s the ‘mortar’ that builds trust, growing teams and companies that are not only more productive, but also more creative and resilient in times of stress, hardship, and fast-growth.
What matters is the mortar, not just the bricks. – Margaret Heffernan
So where’s the hard evidence?
- Social capital was first studied in communities, where researchers noticed that those communities that survived and flourished in times of stress were those with greater social capital – a mutual reliance, with an underlying sense of connectedness that builds trust.
- At MIT, researchers looked to identify features that made some teams more effective at creative problem solving. They found that neither individual intelligence (IQ of one or two superstars) nor collective intelligence (aggregate IQ of the group) made a big difference. Instead, social sensitivity mattered. These were teams with individuals that were more tuned in to one another’s moods, in other words, teams with greater empathy.
- When Alex Pentland, renowned researcher at MIT, suggested to one company that they synchronize coffee breaks so that people would have time to talk to each other, profits went up $15 million, and employee satisfaction went up 10%!
So how do you build social capital at work? The secret is to create opportunities for small, simple interactions within your workplace that enables your people to get to know each other better. For example, Trello started an activity called “Mr. Rogers” where two employees are randomly paired each week, and for 15 minutes they hop onto a video call and get to know one another better, This worked wonders to grow social capital at Trello, especially in an environment of fast-growth, made up of virtual and distributed teams.
Similarly, Fika can also help your company build social capital. By embedding serendipitous moments into a busy workday where everyone gathers around coffee, cake, and good conversations. It creates a sense of togetherness – some call it “collective restoration”.
Join Us in our Weekly Fika Moments
At Perked!, we believe in helping teams and companies grow their social capital. Our weekly Fika Moments are designed to be fun, simple and flexible, creating serendipitous opportunities for you to connect with your fellow colleagues, no matter where they are in the world.
So, come join us in our weekly Fika Moments! For those looking for a good laugh while learning a little more about Fika, check out this Gevalia video.