Here’s how the story goes…
You’re new in Sweden and just got a new job. You might like the country and enjoy your coworkers, but can still be a bit shy and uncertain about many of the cultural norms.
One day, while you’re sitting at your desk finishing up a task at hand, everyone stands up and heads over to the break room. What’s going on?!
You sneak a peek into the room only to find your coworkers chatting, drinking coffee, and enjoying dessert. You think to yourself: I should probably be back at my desk, getting more important things done. How are they taking this break with all the tasks at hand? Joining them might be a bit awkward anyway.
Well, we’re here to tell you, DON’T GO BACK TO YOUR DESK! What you’re looking at is a Swedish fika, a major element when it comes to adapting to the culture. Here are 5 tips that’ll help you navigate through Fikas like a piece of cake. (See what we did there?)
Tip 1: Join the Party
Even if it seems a bit overwhelming, do step in and join your coworkers. Skipping fika will be viewed as rude, and will deprive you of a whole lot of adaptation to the work culture and socializing with your coworkers.
Don’t forget, you’re new, and might feel a bit homesick, so making new friends and immersing yourself in the culture will make it all easier. And fika is a great opportunity to help you with that.
Tip 2: You Don’t Have to Drink the Coffee
Even though fika is technically a coffee break, caffeine is totally optional. The real purpose of fika is to give everyone the opportunity to socialize during the workday.
So, if you’re not a coffee person, it’s totally acceptable to show up with tea, water, or just yourself! As long as you show up.
Tip 3: Be Modest
Now that you’re there (with or without your cup of coffee), it’s time to chat.
Here you should remember that modesty is key. Unless it’s about health, wellness, or sustainability, bragging is always frowned upon in Sweden.
For example, you might find someone describing how they reached an exciting milestone in their jogging. Or perhaps they will talk about the eco-friendly features of their car. And that would be about it.
So keep that in mind while engaging in a conversation over fika.
Tip 4: Be Moderate:
Aside from modesty while conversing comes moderating. Always be careful of how and when you talk. It’s always important to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to speak and everyone should speak almost the same amount.
Might sound a bit stressful but trust us, it’s not. Just be attentive while your coworkers are talking, and be thoughtful with how you respond to them!
Tip 5: Don’t Eat the Last Piece of Cake
You’re enjoying a good conversation and having some dessert. You spot one last piece of cake…
It’s not necessarily a strict rule, but a recommendation. DON’T EAT THAT LAST PIECE OF CAKE.
Swedes rarely want to be the person to grab the last piece of dessert. As a result, fika will often end with at least one dessert left unclaimed. You won’t become a social pariah for taking it, but it may be viewed as a little odd.
And now that fika is over, you can go on about with what you were already doing beforehand.
Navigating through your first fika might be stressful, but with time it might as well become your favourite time of the day.
The Swedish workplace can be a bit different from what you’re used to where you come from. That’s why we’ve developed a course specifically to prepare you for your new journey. Head over to our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoxtz2w9hegRzD5OiXAJNAw and check out our course, The Swedish Work Environment: Expats’ Guide.