When our Head of Marketing, Hanna Mansson, started at Hubble, she made a big impact. From a professional and marketing point of view, of course – but that wasn’t the only reason. She also introduced the team to one of the finest traditions of her home country, Sweden.
Now, every Friday at 4.30pm, the Hubble team routinely convene to share coffee, cake, and conversation, Scandi-style – a tradition also known as fika.
What is fika?
Fika is one of those wonderful words that is so embedded in a certain culture that it’s hard to translate directly into English. Essentially, fika is “a coffee and cake break” – but that just doesn’t quite do the phenomenon justice. In Sweden, fika is also a state of mind, an indispensable part of the day that’s more about the act of socialising and its effects than the comestibles involved (although they’re important too).
It is such a ritual in their culture that even the team of Swedish car giant Volvo dedicate time to it every single day. In fact, many people will fika – the word can be used as a verb, too – multiple times a day.
But not only is it an enjoyable habit to have – it also makes sense from a business point of view. Taking a few moments to refresh the brain is crucial for focus and concentration, whilst having that dedicated time to forge relationships with colleagues can do wonders for team bonding, resulting in heightened productivity, morale, and collaboration on a day-to-day basis.
So now, every week, the Hubble team takes turns to provide snacks (with bonus points when they’re homemade) and everyone leaves their desk to chat and spend time with one another for half an hour.
We asked Hanna a little more about this ritual that she holds so dearly:
Can you explain a little about the role that fika plays in Swedish life?
Hanna: Fika is an important part of how we socialise in Sweden, both at work and in our private life. Whilst in the UK, you might meet your friends for brunch or a drink, in Sweden we meet for a fika. It usually happens either between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner, but you can also fika in the evening.
Sweden has a huge cafe culture, so a lot of the time that’s where fika takes place – traditionally with a coffee and a cinnamon bun. But you can also invite someone to ‘come over for fika’, meaning there will be some kind of cake involved, but not food.
At work, fika is a casual break where you have coffee and sometimes cake, meet and chat with your colleagues in a casual setting. It’s important for getting to know your colleagues on a more personal level – as well as providing a well-deserved break to reinvigorate your mind before the next task.
What do you think fika brings to the team at Hubble?
Hanna: I think fika brings us closer as a team, as you have the opportunity to chat to people across different departments in a more relaxed setting. Building relationships internally is incredibly important for productivity, and fika helps this happen in a very natural way. I also think having closer relationships with your colleagues makes work more enjoyable, which is absolutely key to the culture we want at Hubble: one where we are friends first, colleagues second – and both care about, and respect, each other.
How does our fika at Hubble compare to a traditional Swedish fika?
Hanna: In Sweden, fika tends to happen impromptu every day, not at a certain time. At Hubble we have a ‘scheduled’ fika – it fits better with the way we work, and keeps it organised and consistent.
Apart from that, the team has really evolved the Swedish fika concept of cinnamon buns and coffee, and we’ve seen some very exciting additions to fika time that you would never see in Sweden – such as wine and cheese or ice cream!