Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fika at Work

Through our time spent in Sweden we have explored the gathering ritual of Fika; breaking for a coffee and sweets, and its resonance in the Swedish culture. Fika can either happen at home or in the workplace, and can occur as often as everyday, or as little as once a week. With every cultural ritual there is a tendency for its importance to be overlooked, and we have found that Swedes don’t usually recognize Fika as a particularly special event. We, on the other hand, are enraptured with the consistency and normalcy of this habit. The ability to have a small party where you eat cookies and cake, drink coffee, and take a break from work is something reserved to holidays, or birthdays in the US, and is definitely not a daily occurrence. 

Thanks to our dear friend, Rebecca Waller, we were able to join a work fika at the L’Oréal offices in Stockholm. This is what we learned:
·      Fika at L’Oréal used to occur daily, but because of the increase in work load it is now once a week, which makes it extra special.
·      Fika happens every Thursday at 3pm and everyone in the division must be there.
·      The person in charge of buying the sweets and setting up the Fika rotates on a weekly basis and extra points are given to those who bring home made treats.
·      The conversation is naturally kept non work-related and as a result, folks get to know each other on a more personal level.
·      This break from work allows for a much appreciated rest and results in a re-energized, happier group of people.
·      If the sun is out, fika is without a doubt taken outside. If it’s rainy, fika is taken indoors and the tables are pushed together. Fika must always occur at one table.

The fika table we joined on Thursday afternoon offered Canel Bullar (the most popular and typical Swedish coffee accompaniment), cookies and “vacuum cleaners” (Sam’s favorite treat in Sweden!). The sun was shining and everyone was enjoying the pastries, the coffee, and the time spent together. 

Tack så mycket L'Oréal!

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