Despite their cool climates and short winter days, our Scandinavian neighbours are continually ranked as some of the happiest places in the world to live. Their secret? Hygge.
Although this Danish lifestyle concept has taken the design world by storm, hygge can’t easily be translated into a single word. Pronounced ‘hoo-gah’, it’s an expression which encompasses a feeling of wellness and gratitude that can only be felt in the right atmosphere, with the right mindset. It’s about enjoying the simple things in life and feeling cozy contentment.
Hygge is a proud part of national Danish identity. Some even believe the nationwide obsession with all things cozy is one of the reasons Denmark is consistently voted one of the world’s happiest countries. That’s not bad considering Denmark also has awfully miserable and long winters.
So, taking our lead from the Danes, how can you embrace hygge in your office this winter?
Danes burn more candles than any other country in the world. It’s believed that a true hygge experience is incomplete without a soft, enveloping scented glow. But unluckily for you and your colleagues, your fire marshall is sure to disagree so you’ll have to get a little more creative. Switch harsh overhead strip lighting, which feels clinical and sterile, for more ambient bulbs, lamps and even hanging pendants. This sort of lighting solution makes for a more serene atmosphere conducive to rest and recovery, whilst reducing eye strain.
You could also make the most of what sunlight there is by maximising exposure using floor-to-ceiling windows, glass partitions, mirrors and a colour palette that reflects light. Or, consider installing dimming lights with individual controls - perfect for setting the scene.
If you’ve ever curled up under a snuggly blanket on your favourite sofa on a chilly afternoon, you’ve experienced hygge. Regardless of whether you were watching Netflix or sipping a hot cup of cocoa, you were cozy and content.
You can provide a similar level of comfort in your office with your selection of furniture and soft furnishings. Think: plush rugs, soft sofas and ottomans, a fireplace and a bookshelf. Your break out space can be modelled on a cozy living room to foster that hyggelig (hygge-like) sense of comfort and wellbeing.
A certain slowness and the ability to recognise and enjoy the present moment sums up the attitude needed to truly embrace hygge. Rest assured, having a culture that appreciates downtime doesn’t mean your productivity levels will plummet. Managing energy levels is crucial to avoiding employee burnout, which will certainly cost you more in the long run. By giving employees places to concentrate without distractions, or the chance to recharge, you office supports both emotional and cognitive wellbeing.
In addition to offering flexible working and encouraging a healthy work-life balance, you can also design your workspace to have little ‘rest stop’ enclaves. This might be a quiet nook with outdoor views, a hideaway booth for sipping your coffee or a small library. Sometimes even something as simple as changing positions could give you a much-needed break. For this we recommend offering standing desks, which are excellent for boosting physical and mental health.
Who doesn’t love a tea break? Brits certainly do. Google how to make the perfect cup of tea and you’ll get 500 million results. Make the most of this nationwide past-time and celebrate the joy of what the Danes call fika - a relaxing coffee and cake break with friends. Cherishing and simply enjoying being together in this way is another part of the hygge lifestyle.
We’ve always said the kitchen is the heart of any office. If designed and built properly, your kitchen can be so much more than just a place to heat croissant. It’s a meeting spot for casual conversation, sharing, laughing and getting to know your work colleagues. This is where relationships are formed - over last night’s leftovers, a charity bake sale and festive mince pies. Your design can make your kitchen a welcoming place by incorporating lots of seating, adequate storage and food preparation areas, appropriate appliances and - most importantly - visual privacy from the rest of the office so employees can truly disconnect for bit.