How the Nordic lifestyle can make you happier and more productive

Hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”) comes from a Scandinavian word meaning “well-being” and has been adopted by generations of Nordic people as a way to not only ward off the winter blues, but to actually embrace and celebrate the gifts offered by the colder, darker season. Hygge is loosely translated as “coziness” in English, but it’s actually much more than that.

Hygge is an attitude, a way of being, that can be applied to all aspects of your life, including the way you work together with your team.

“Hygge was never meant to be translated — it was meant to be felt”
– Tove Maren Stakkestad

We all know the Scandinavians endure short days and long nights. The hours of daylight are full of frenetic activity, but the nights are an invitation to rest, to allow ourselves the space and time for quiet contemplation. This gives us the opportunity to connect more deeply with our loved ones, with our own selves and, for some, our spiritual beliefs.

How to implement “Hygge” in your team

Not everyone has the same changing seasons as the Scandinavians, but we all have ups and downs in our own lives, and your business is no exception. Learning the lessons of how they thrive in challenging conditions can help us overcome the obstacles we encounter in everyday life.

Even in the tough “Winter” periods, with the right attitude you and your team can overcome any obstacle. The hygge philosophy can help transform your team and make you happier, more fulfilled and most importantly, more productive.

1. Less clutter

Scandinavia is famed for its minimalistic approach to life. Simplicity brings peace and tranquility to the mind. Less clutter means less distraction and allows better focus. The calming influence of hygge should be brought into the workplace and promoted through company culture.

Hygge is all about enjoying the environment and the people around you, to allow you to transform your personal space.

2. Connecting with the world around you

Spend more time connecting with your team. Express your gratitude for the work they do. Go for a walk during your work hours. Fresh air and nature bring balance to your life, soothe your worries help recharge your batteries and studies show it can even improve your memory.

“I think the essence of hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness. Trying to build a little pleasure and gratitude into your daily routine.”
– Make Wiking, CEO of Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute.

3. Do more with less

In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with information. Many people feel like they are constantly drowning in new gadgets that claim to make you more productive.

As Paul Simon says “Want to be a writer but don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a simple pen.”

4. Keep it simple

Most systems work best when they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Simplicity should be a key goal for any team and unnecessary complexity should be avoided at all costs. Simpler solutions are both easier to implement and easier to maintain.

Leonardo da Vinci himself famously said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” and who are we to argue with him?

5. Clarify your priorities

When your team sees the big picture they are more invested in getting to a “win”. The “OKR” system is how Google, LinkedIn and Intel do it and so do we here at

Abraham Lincoln said “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 6 sharpening my axe” and he knew a thing or two about getting things done.

Understand and accept your limits. Don’t say “yes” to everything. Learning to say “No” is powerful. Limiting your “work-in-progress” leads to quicker “wins” and more positive momentum for everyone.

6. Understand your role in the team

Studies show employees are more engaged when they understand their roles and responsibilities within their position. It leads to higher levels of performance and commitment.

Be open and listen to your teammates, regardless of their role! Yes, you can’t always get what you want, but listening, true active listening, builds empathy.

Remember the “Golden Rule” of all religions — “treat others as you would want to be treated yourself”. Doing just a little bit to show you care can go a long, long way…

7. Know what you want out of life

Remember that the enjoyable things in life don’t have to be restricted to outside the office. Spontaneity is the spice of life but there’s nothing wrong with organizing your fun!

Try organizing a sweepstake, take an hour out to play a team board game or quiz (We highly recommend our Norwegian friends at Kahoot!). Why not try meditation sessions at lunchtime?

You could even organise a tasty food rota, with people taking it in turns to bring in homemade cakes or soup for the office.

Whatever you decide, it’s worth taking the plunge; after all, there is nothing more hyggelig than making time for each other.

Recommended articles

Productivity & Efficiency

Manage Your Time With the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time management system created by Francesco Cirillo. It’s based on the concept of using a kitchen timer to manage your work sessions.