Swedish “FIKA” in the digital workplace

Swedish people are focused and efficient while working, but value quality time with their family, friends and co-workers just as much. They demand quality and do not settle for less. They are big on gender equality and work-family balance.

“FIKA” (pronounced “fee-ka”) is accompanied with (again) good quality coffee and sweets. “FIKA is a social phenomenon, a legitimate reason to set aside a moment for quality time.” (Swedish Culture website).  It creates meaningful interaction among employees and good vibe at the office.

Can this be the secret of high performing teams in Sweden and ease of cohesion at the workplace?

Not by itself of course, but it has definitely contributed greatly towards better enhancement of the teamwork environment. Swedish companies are organized as flat organizations where decision making processes are based on consensus and employee participation.

However, in the digitally connected world of today with global intensified competition, the teamwork environment is no longer confined by neither the walls of the office or by the borders of the country.

Can “FIKA” survive in such a dynamic environment?

Sweden taking the lead in digital

Did you know that the Nordic countries have been recognized as world digital leaders for 2015 according to the he Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)?

Sweden takes the second place with 92% of households having broadband internet access and 48% daily usage of social media usage (Statista, 2015). Furthermore, Stockholm and Oslo recently became the two first cities in the world with publicly available 4G networks.

Companies have also used this opportunity and introduced novelties on the market which improve the quality of life in Sweden and make products and services more easily available. For example, Selecta, which owns snack machines all over the Stockholm Metro, recently introduced mPayment, enabling their customers to get a cold Coke or a sandwich in the middle of the night, even if they do not have cash. As for buying tickets and goods using mobile phones has become mainstream. Actually, Sweden has been recognized as the most cash-free society on the planet.


The workplace in the digital world

The digital era has truly created new possibilities for increasing efficiency, performance and financial results. There has been an emergence of a new model: THE WIREARCHY, defined by Jon Husband as “a dynamic two-way flow of  power and authority, based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology”.

Steve Jobs explained this simply in his last public speech back in 2011:

“The traditional workplace is undergoing rapid change as the line between physical and digital blurs. Advances in mobile and cloud technology mean professionals can feasibly work from anywhere, at anytime.”


Swedish entrepreneurs are quite cautious and fear that a diffusion of the team on more than one physical location may result in loss of cohesion and teamwork spirit. But missing out on the opportunity to cut costs and increase efficiency has emerged as the biggest risk in the digital business ecosystem. Furthermore, companies, particularly start-ups and SMEs, with limited HR and financial resources can now easily reach out and recruit skilful professionals in remote locations across Europe with the right capabilities at much lower costs

(For more data on the topic check: https://www.coordea.com/en/news.php?n=634-Sweden–the-Silicon-Valley-of-Europe–part-II-Focus-on-what-matters).

Remember, companies do not necessarily have to take the “Big Bang” approach. In contrast, they can gradually recruit talent across borders for resources augmentation with long term goals and targets based on trust, rather than executing big complex outsourcing projects.

This helps nurture relationship and builds true partnerships over time. Moreover, it provides time for employees to accept and embrace the change.

At Coordea, we have successfully managed to create a team spirit environment using the “Extended Office” model where a dedicated team works for a Swedish company from our remote location in Macedonia, but stays connected and involved in the business on daily basis.

It is all about connecting, communicating and collaborating!

With the right approach, technology and tools people collaborate seamlessly and feel as part of the team, regardless of location and physical distance.

I will dare and say, “FIKA” is feasible in the digital workplace. Do you agree?

Share your thoughts on the ever-changing working environment and how it affects both, your life and work.

P.S Here are 7 additional effective ways to keep FIKA alive in the digital workplace: http://digitalworkplacegroup.com/2015/03/03/7-ways-to-create-ikeas-fika-in-the-digital-workplace/

How can we keep team spirit alive in international teams across borders?