Do you fika – or take coffee on the go?

Do you fika – or take coffee on the go?
Martin Brown

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Martin Brown

August 2019

Do you fika? Quite. I wasn’t sure whether I should own up to what might be completely inappropriate.

But apparently not: to fika is to take a coffee break.

Not any coffee break. But a Swedish-style coffee break.

And that doesn’t mean fetching yourself a latte (skinny or otherwise), black americano or flat white ‘on the go’.

It’s about having a coffee. And a break. Oh and something sweet too as you and colleagues take time out from work and have time to socialise. A fika should happen about twice a day, apparently.

I can’t quite see this happening for fleet drivers on the road. I mean, plenty stop to take a coffee or tea break and catch up on some emails. But it’s unlikely they’ll have colleagues around to have a chat.

Nevertheless, we do seem to be in something of a Nordic trend at the moment, that stretches beyond retailer Ikea to ‘hygge’, ‘umage’ and now this: fika.

But is fika good for business? Is the idea of timeout like this good for productivity?

Possibly it is. ‘Wellness’ is a key theme at internet search giant Google, where staff are offered three free meals a day, along with climbing walls and volleyball parks as part of the workscape.

Not every firm is a Google, of course, or has that sort of wealth to provide such employer benefits.

But many companies do encourage a programme of inclusiveness that recognises individuals and staff as social beings. Many firms allow pets to be brought to the office, for instance.

I think this is a positive trend, however it manifests itself. I’m not sure fika is for us here at Fleet Alliance, but I do think it’s important to recognise employees as social beings along with work’s place in society.

At Fleet Alliance we encourage our staff to have fun, with themed dress-up days for example. Or we’ll have a free lunch – pizza or curry seem to be staple staff favourites – and every Friday is drinks afternoon. At 4pm we all gather to socialise and have a drink: there are soft drinks, beer, or prosecco along with pool or just chat about what we’re going to do at the weekend.

But it’s not all about a free pizza and a free beer. We also want staff to consider the wider context of business within society. So we encourage employees to become engaged in charitable or community work and to consider environmental best practice.

We’re keen for staff to develop their skills and interests both in work and outside so they can lead richer and more fulfilling lives. We call this Fleet Alliance Loves.

It results in some outstanding fundraising. Since we started Fleet Alliance Loves in 2008, the amount raised for charity by Fleet Alliance staff is well over half a million. From 2018 alone, staff have raised £131,981.

Engagement, Respect, Fairness, and Trust are all core to Fleet Alliance Loves, important values that feed through strongly into the working day.

It seems to work, too. Fleet Alliance is one of the top 50 best places to work and customer service is absolutely top of the agenda: fleet decision-makers have voted Fleet Alliance the UK’s top fleet and leasing company for service in four out of the last five year’s ExpertEye awards. I think that’s a strong indication such an approach works.

So whether it’s fika or a free curry, social interaction does work. Happy staff, engaged staff, are positive forces – and create the right environment to deliver great customer service.


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