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Bring 'lagom' into your workplace 06 February 2017

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Last year, it seemed to many like everyone was becoming obsessed with ‘hygge’ - the Danish word translating to ‘cosiness’. Pronounced ‘hue-ugh’, hygge inspired Instagram and Pinterest lovers across the world into a lifestyle full of scented candles, hot chocolates and layers and layers of knitwear and throws.

But it’s time to embrace a new trend, as we venture a little further into Scandinavia and over to Sweden. Get ready for ‘lagom’. Taking some inspiration from Goldilocks, the term ‘lagom’ refers to something that is not too much, not too little - it’s just the right amount.

Live life lagom

Unlike hygge, lagom is a notion by which you can live your whole life, encouraging sustainability, happiness and healthy work/life balance. Following the philosophy of lagom, you can live a more sustainable and cost- friendly life, without the need for huge change as it helps you to become aware of your spending habits and your impact on the environment.

Popular Swedish brand IKEA is just one company trying to push the ‘lagom’ trend outside of its native country. The official website has a whole section devoted to ways in which their customers have started living more sustainably and how you can too. The store is also handing out vouchers to customers to purchase products which will help them to be more energy efficient, save water, reduce waste and live a healthier life.

Business benefits

But how does this relate to working life? Achieving a sensible work/life balance is key to lagom, helping to produce happier, healthier employees. This mentality is something companies in Sweden embraced a long time ago; while the methods can often seem alien to foreigners, they do have positive effects.

Swedish businesses are often less hierarchical than we’re used to, meaning that employees in Sweden might find their managing director to be more available to them than we would usually expect. This open nature helps to put staff at ease and gives them the opportunity to take their concerns straight to the head of the chain, rather than having to jump through hoops to get to the top.

Managers can also help their staff to be happier and healthier in the workplace by making sure they plan well in advance and prioritise workloads. If your employees feel like you trust them to get the job done, they’re more likely to go above and beyondwhen the business really needs it. This mentality has been accepted in Sweden for some time now as they bring lagom into the workplace. It is common for Swedish staff to focus on doing just what is needed, and doing it very well, rather than wasting precious time on unnecessary tasks. Makes sense really, doesn’t it?

An office that’s just right

In Sweden, it’s normal for colleagues to address each other casually, no matter what their level of seniority. Even in boardrooms, formal titles like ‘Dr’ and ‘Sir’ are no longer used. In every establishment, from school to work, everyone is put on a first name basis. This casual mentality also feeds through to the dress code. Although Swedish work attire is often conservative, it’s also casual, with workers wearing sandals around the office and then changing into outdoor shoes for the journey home.

A more sustainable office

As well as a more casual approach to working, since lagom is also about consciously reducing your environmental impact on the world, there is plenty you and your colleagues can be doing to help. Whether it’s turning off the lights in that meeting room no one is using, recycling your old papers and unused books, or not boiling more water than you need on your daily brew round.

You could also make yourself feel calmer and more ‘lagom’ through making sure you’ve only got the necessary around your desk. Do you really need all those papers piled up on your desk? Are 6 notepads all with illegible scribbles of forgotten to-do lists and meetings notes ever going to be used properly? If the answer is no, make sure to put them in the recycling.

Is lagom for everyone?

Like everything, the simple answer is probably not. Some people don’t think this is going to be quite as fun as hygge. While a more balanced way of life might sound great to some, it could be just plain boring to others. Does being environmentally friendly really mean three minute cold showers and no central heating? Or does living a healthier lifestyle really mean depriving yourself of chocolate and alcohol? Lagom would argue not. After all, it would encourage you to continue enjoying all these things while living a lagom life, but make sure you have just the right amount.

Do you agree with the lagom philosophy? Is it something you’ll be adopting into your workplace culture? Let us know in the comments section below.

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