Heard of hygge? If not, you’re missing out on one of the hottest trends in social media—not to mention the benefits of having hygge in your life. No, it’s not the newest coffee concoction from Starbucks.
In a nutshell, the Danish term hygge (pronounced hue-gah) captures the warm and cozy feeling we get from enjoying simple pleasures, such as eating a home-cooked meal by candlelight or curling up with a cozy blanket and a good book.
The idea is to create an environment that invites you to let go of stress and find tranquility during even the busiest of days. The Danes created hygge to help them survive Denmark’s long, harsh winters—and it obviously works because they’re one of the happiest in the world.
What does hygge have to do with the workplace?
Although hygge is usually associated with the home, lately it’s been finding its way into the workplace. Why? One reason is that 92 percent of employers say their workforce is stressed, and high stress often leads to increased sick days and decreased productivity. Another is competitive edge: a strong company culture—which hygge supports—fosters better relationships and helps attract and retain good employees.
Does this mean you should start lighting candles and wearing cozy pajamas to client meetings? Not exactly. There are lots of ways to foster hygge without creating fire hazards or lowering professional standards. Here are some hygge hacks for the office:
1. Decorate with live plants and artwork.
Natural greenery is not only beautiful; it also cleans stale office air and boosts your mood. And, artwork can create a calm, comfortable environment for employees and clients alike. Unique art may also be linked to employee productivity.
2. Add warmth with natural light.
If you’re blessed with windows in your space, let the sun shine in and soak up some spirit-lifting vitamin D. If not, use desk lamps and other types of fixtures to soften harsh office lighting, which can put a strain on your eyes and your attitude.
3. Offer gratitude to others.
Nothing feels better than feeling appreciated—except maybe giving appreciation. So, build hygge in your heart by writing thank you notes to colleagues and clients. Research also shows it can increase your happiness levels as much as 20 percent!
4. Sip a warm drink in a special mug.
Whether you prefer coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, skip the paper cup and sip slowly from a mug with a design or message that inspires good thoughts or memories. Bonus: you’ll help the environment by saving paper.
5. Practice mindfulness.
Rushing through the day can lead to mistakes and increased anxiety. So, take a few minutes to nurture a sense of calm with mindful breathing. Use an app like the Apple® Breathe app as your personal coach.
6. Adopt an office pet.
In addition to giving a casual vibe to your workplace, pets can improve morale and even attract new hires. If your space is not conducive to cats, dogs, or other four-legged friends, consider a colorful tank filled with exotic fish or a totally laid-back turtle.
7. Plan a potluck.
Gathering people together over a home-cooked meal is the ultimate in hygge hospitality. Recreate the experience at your office with a potluck breakfast or lunch. Ask your colleagues to bring a favorite dish (homemade or not) and consider inviting clients to drop by.