LIV­ING LAGOM

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-

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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)

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