What is Hygge and Can It Be Used in Your Work Life?

It seems like every day I hear about a new “fad” or lifestyle trend that is guaranteed to make me more productive, mentally healthier and just overall happier. From cognitive tricks to get more done in 90 minutes than you have in 30 days to eating different foods to power you through an afternoon slump, there’s always something to try to help make your work life that much more efficient.

And at PGi, it’s no secret that we’re fans of trying just about anything we come across to help us become more productive or less stressed during the workday – you’ve probably noticed that if you’ve visited our blog before. But one lifestyle trend that has been breaking into American homes and workplaces focuses on the idea of creating a comfortable, homey environment in which to live or work.

Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), is a Danish lifestyle that centers on a few key elements to keep the mind happy and relationships healthy. And they should know, as the World Happiness Report by the United Nations ranks them as the happiest people on the planet.

Hygge doesn’t really translate into an English word, but the closest analog could be “coziness” or “hominess”. The best example of this concept is if you and your friends or family were enjoying each other’s company around a fireplace, candles lit, mug of hot cider and warm cookies in hand. No one is scrolling through their phones, they are all focused on the company in front of them.

Hygge mostly focuses on the home environment, and if you’re a remote worker, you can take all of the aforementioned cozy aspects of that scenario (warm blankets, your most comfortable clothes and mood lighting) to create a hygge space while you’re working. But for those who aren’t able to telework, there are some hygge elements you can use to change your work life (without disrupting your cubemates):

Good Lighting

Americans know good and well that candles scream fire hazard in the workplace, so, unfortunately, we have to find an alternative. Good lighting is incredibly important for your mood and overall physical health. Consider adding a lamp with an incandescent bulb to counteract the harsh overhead fluorescents and the glare from your computer screen.

Keep it Cozy

It may seem like a lot of the elements of hygge would work best in the winter, but if your office is anything like ours, the A/C is blowing constantly year round, so keeping a few cozy elements could really make you feel that much more at east. Consider keeping a small blanket or even just a scarf to have that can give you that cozy, more comfortable feeling while you’re at your desk.

Music that Makes You Happy

If your company allows, consider grabbing some headphones and tuning into music or white noise that comforts you. As a writer, music is critical to my productivity. I use Spotify Premium and cycle through their “Focus” playlists that include songs with instrumental beats or soothing pianos sonnets. More of a white noise person? Try simplynoise.com.

Communicate with Colleagues

A major factor of hygge is creating and maintaining healthy relationships with everyone around you. Your entire day doesn’t need to be heads down in your work, and in fact, that’s not very hygge at all. Remember to chat with your colleagues during the day – schedule a quick check in once a week with your favorite peer or mentor; grab a cup of morning coffee with someone you’d like to get to know better, or simply send a chat to a colleague who works in another office or is remote. These breaks in your day will strengthen your relationships with your coworkers and help you take your mind off work, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Soak up Some Sun

This is something I personally struggle with doing. Like many of us, far too often, I just sit through the day at my desk with intermittent breaks to get coffee. But getting up and going outside to enjoy nature is an esteemed aspect of hygge. Once or twice a day, make a conscious effort to head outside and enjoy nature for a bit to refresh your senses.

Wait, Isn’t This What I Should be Doing Already?

Yes, you should, and I’m sure you’ve heard all of these separately as productivity tips. But, hygge is much more than just productivity tips – it’s really about putting yourself in a comfortable environment, surrounded things that make you happy and making those ever-important connections with the people you see every day to perpetuate a healthier workplace. It’s enjoying the simple comforts of life.

Try hygge for yourself, and let us know if you think it makes you happier during your work day. Join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting us @PGi. Happy hygge!

About Andrea D.