Fika Increases Productivity at Work and Helps Building Social Capital – How?

An eternal debate that has done the rounds at the workplace is whether the amount of time an employee spends at work time is congruent to productivity. While it stills in discussion, one fact is unanimity: happy employees produce much more.

Whether you are an entrepreneur managing a startup, or a corporate executive with thousands of employees, it’s hard to ignore the evidence of big value from happy employees.

While there is no single solution that fits all and in all parts of the globe, how about a peek into a common habit in the workplace in Sweden?

Imagine that you are working. It’s 3 pm. This song starts playing deep in your mind:

It’s fika time! If you work in Sweden then at least twice a day is fika time.

The word fika is a national social institution: there is one at 9 a.m. and another one at 3 p.m. Similar a coffee break, in which every worker leaves their desk, and socializes with colleagues over a cup of coffee and something sweet, like biscuits or cake.

So give me coffee…


I’ve seen so much, I’m going blind

And I’m brain-dead virtually

The word is derived from a form of slang in which syllables are reversed (fika reversed reads kafi, or coffee).

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However, there’s something comfortingly certain about the ritualization of it – that no matter what, it’s for catching up.

A key aspect of the fika is that it is also a social event and a social space, a time to unwind with your colleagues.

The investment in time and money makes for happier employees and increased productivity. The Swedish researcher Terry Hartig calls this “collective restoration,” arguing that the synchronicity is what gives the time its social and business value.

Have you heard the term: Social Capital? Margaret Heffernan lays out the often-overlooked element necessary to build an effective, efficient organization: Social Capital.

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The Swedes teach a good lesson on this sense. Fika is not only a coffee break. It fosters a sense of togetherness.

The excerpt from another song says:

I don’t drink coffee, I take tea my dear.

Your company does not need necessarily constitute a forced event for coffee and socializing between employees. For those not quite to a cafe, other options may be offered. The point is: what practical action the company takes to create and maintain their social capital?

Are you looking for to increase togetherness in your team members and as one of the results, increase productivity at work?

So take a look more closely at the Swedish secret coming from the cold: Fika!

P.S.: A tip to the Swedes – you should try Sul de Minas (Brazilian coffee blend) and Kona Coffee (Hawaiian blend) in your next fika!

Author: Alexandre Marins Augusto

Blog: August Alexander


The secret ingredient that makes some teams better than others (TED ideas)

How To Increase Productivity By Employee Happiness (Forbes)

Fika: The Swedish Secret to Afternoon Productivity at the Workplace

– Song: Coffee And TV – Blur

– Song: Englishman In New York – Sting

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