“Wanna Fika?” – Productivity Hacks from Around the World

“Wanna Fika?” – Productivity Hacks from Around the World

When I was a college intern at the Kraft foods beverage department, I returned to my desk after lunch one day to find a yellow t-shirt that said, “Wanna Fika?” I had absolutely no idea who the gift-giving fairy was, or what the heck fika meant, but the shirt also included the logo for the coffee brand, Gevalia. Hint #1! Later on, a co-worker explained that fika was Swedish for coffee break. It was only the other day, however, that I learned the significance behind fika as a productivity hack rather than just a clever marketing campaign for delicious coffee.


a coffee break for productivity.

Country: Sweden

The idea here is that multiple times a day, you and your teammates leave your desks and grab some coffee and bond with each other. These 15-minute breaks can increase productivity, in part, because they increase well-being and happiness. Better relationships = better teamwork.

productivity from around the worldLearning about the real importance of fika made me curious about other cultural customs around the business world. Check it out!

Shorter Work Week

Country: Luxembourg

29 hour work week 

In 2015, Luxembourg (aka fairytale dreamland) was rated the most productive country in the world. Yet they only work 29 hours per week, compared to our 40. What gives? Balance. The flexible work hours are encouraged by their business culture, which gives them time and space to focus on family, personal life, and interests. Once again, balanced, happy people are productive people.


Country: Japan

Napping on the job 

To combat the culture of being overworked, companies in Japan allow their employees to take a nap while on duty. Of course, they frown upon letting your eyes droop in the middle of a meeting. But just like Swift Kick, Japan is pro-nap! –Takes nap before finishing this blog post. #ProductivityHack 

Pranza Pausa

Country: Italy

 3-4 hour lunch break…at home

My family is Italian and so the idea that the big meal of the day is lunch, not dinner, is not strange to me. Every holiday, we have our big feast at lunchtime and maybe nibble something small in the evening, while most other Americans are eating a big dinner. This tradition isn’t just for days of celebrations in Italy, though. From 1pm-4pm every day, businesses are mostly closed. Everybody goes home for lunch and then goes back to work to finish the day. Sure, Italians don’t get things done super quickly, but their priorities put family, food, and balance over work, work, work. Pranza pausa gives them a chance to recharge after a busy morning.

Sauna Culture

Country: Finland

Securing contracts and business deals, while in a sauna

That’s right. Office saunas are a big deal in Finland, and the Finnish might invite you to join them there after a business dinner in order to negotiate and strike a deal. They find it easier to be open, relaxed, direct, and better able to close contracts.

I am not suggesting that installing a sauna or instituting a 3-hour lunch break makes sense for your team in the middle of NYC, or wherever you are. We can learn, however, about these different approaches to find out what makes an office culture productive in other countries.

Each of these productivity hacks from around the world has to do with stepping away from your work in order to be better at your job. They are about focusing on the HUMANS at work.

Just because your day was busy and hectic, doesn’t mean you came up with quality ideas and did anything important. Often, the best thing you can do is re-energize yourself so you can get back to better work.

What other productivity hacks from around the world have you heard about? What about where you come from?

Sabina Colleran

Sabina is the Community Manager at Swift Kick, and loves that her job is dedicated to helping students be as awesome as they were meant to be. She is a graduate of Fordham University (go Rams!) and has fond memories of being an Orientation Leader and on the board of the Filipino club while in college. Her life goal is to be a perpetual ball of sunshine. Find her on twitter @sabinadeelight! To read her personal blogging adventure check out: 14tothefullest.wordpress.com