Move over hygge. Lagom is the new Scandi lifestyle approach that’s taking centre stage. Based on the belief that anything more than just enough is a waste of time, it offers a calm counterpoint to our fast-forward lives. In our exclusive extract, Swedish-
BORN of a culture with a Lutheran work ethic and strong unions, there’s no denying that lagom takes work very seriously. Yet the importance of taking due time out of work is equally respected, with the majority of Swedish workers walking out the door the minute their contracted hours are up — and that’s after a number of decent fika breaks.
Working outside the box
The lagom approach to work could be described simply as common sense, exemplified by the following scenario typical of the many reports I have had from the lagom-uninitiated (that is non-Swedish) in Swedish work contexts.
The new recruit asks of her or his boss: “How long do you want me to spend on this task?” To which the invariable reply is: “Until it’s ready.”
You’d think it goes without saying: Don’t waste time on a job that’s already done well enough, but equally, don’t deliver a job that’s not up to scratch. If you do it right, you’ll spend a lagom amount of time on it.
Perhaps a lack of anxiety around the definition of what a lagom amount of time actually is can be linked to the prevailing consensus culture and non-hierarchical company structures.
Enter förank rings process en, a concept for running ideas by everyone impacted by them, allowing everyone to voice their opinion and then discussing everything in detail before arriving at a decision that everyone can get behind. And ‘everyone’ doesn’t just mean the board; it means the executives and the recently employed graduate, because who knows what groundbreaking perspective they might bring?
With this in mind, while it may seem surprising that Swedish businesses tend to rank as comparatively very efficient, you might begin to see why making a call on the completion of that task isn’t so daunting.
Similarly, you may be casually strolling out the door 20 minutes early, and that’s also fine. Your colleagues, including your boss, will simply assume that your work is done; otherwise, you obviously wouldn’t be leaving. A crucial theme is trust.
Images: Naomi Wilkinson Lagom: The Swedish Art of
Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne is published by Gaia, €11.50 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk)