Bringing hygge into the workplace

I’ve just finished my first week in a new job, so I’m very tired and filled with information, but also very excited about the challenges coming up. That said, many of us spend 40+ hours a week in the office, so we may as well make it as comfortable and pleasant for ourselves as possible. I’ve put together a few tips to make your office just a little bit nicer, so that morning commute doesn’t feel quite so painful.

Bringing life to your desk

Copper terrarium from Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters

I mean this quite literally. Having a plant to look after can have a surprisingly powerful effect on your mood at work. I love to fill my home with plants – flowers, cacti, herbs, everything – and I think they have a place in the office too. I think there’s something very therapeutic about having something other than myself to look after (parents may not agree), which is why I’m going to be buying a little terrarium to fill with mini succulents for my desk. Copper is very Scandi, and this one is small enough to slip into any corner. It also comes with a useful handle for easy transportation if your plants need to sunbathe for a while. Ticks all round.

No more al desko

Eating ‘al desko’ (at your desk) should never have been a thing in the first place. I get horrendous leg cramps if I stay sitting at my desk for too long, and not moving around at work can be very bad for your health, leading to sluggish circulation, trapped nerves and conditions like RSI. Besides, the fresh air is good for you. Seeing as businesses are generally still tied to the idea of getting everyone into the office every day (I have my own thoughts on this, but that’s not for here), the least we can do is make the most of our lunch breaks and get outside. Run some errands, pick up some food, just go for a wander.

A second wardrobe

American Apparel unisex fisherman's pullover
American Apparel

Anyone in the UK knows that the weather does what it likes. We’re expecting a particularly cold, snowy winter this year, making it easy to get caught out in a downpour, sleet, snow, intense winds or pretty much anything else. Having extra layers at work can be a godsend in the ‘-ber’ months, whether the heating just isn’t cutting it or you need to run some errands in your lunchbreak. I recommend this unisex American Apparel pullover for extra warmth – mine has saved me from cold snaps many times. For extra hygge points, go for the burgundy, white confetti or dark sage. Or, if a work jumper feels like too big a commitment, sling a spare pair of socks in your desk drawer. You’ll thank me for it after a soggy walk to work.

Desk snacks

This goes without saying. Desk snacks are a crucial part of my life. I’ve currently got a box of grapes, but I also like nuts (especially pistachios, but the shells make SUCH A MESS, and nobody likes a nutty keyboard) and peanut butter and ricecakes. When I’m hungry, I just can’t work, so it’s nice to have things to graze on. Self-deprivation is so not hygge, so make sure you have some nice snacks within easy reach to see you through until 5pm.

Let the music play

I can’t bear silence when I’m working, so if the radio’s not on, I’ll be listening to Spotify all day every day. I’m slowly building up my Hello Hygge playlist (suggestions always welcome), and have been listening to that this week. Ambient office sounds (whirring printers, clinking teaspoons, coughing fits from afar) can take their toll on concentration after a while, and I find that music makes me much more productive. I write for a living, so the ability to listen to my own tunes at work is an absolute godsend.

These ideas are just a starter for ten – I’d love to know how you make your working environment more cosy. Have you persuaded your boss to ditch the strip lighting in favour of personal desk lamps? Do you keep a stash of your favourite tea in your drawer? How have you introduced hygge into the workplace?


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol Ruiz says:

    Love it! I Love the plants especially the cacti. It create a special atmosphere.

    1. Thank you! Having plants around has such a strong impact on the way I feel about a space – it literally brings life into a room, and it’s nice to have something to nurture 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  2. bencatchpole says:

    Podcasts. Anything that raises a wry smile. All the usual really. Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s film reviews. Answer Me This. Literally anything with Adam Buxton in it… If I don’t laugh every half-hour then it’s a crappy old day.

    Oh, and Bowie. Hours & hours of Bowie.

    And tea.

    p.s. Do empty cactus pots count?

    1. I raise a wry smile. I’m hygge personified. Empty cactus pots are a bit depressing, but the jazzy colours definitely help. I should’ve left you a little rag soaked in my perfume (and tears) to remember me by.

  3. Helen says:

    Unfortunately my workplace has hot desking which is as impersonal as it gets. I used to have a nice desk with a jug of fresh flowers and some pretty postcards but, sadly, no longer 😦

    The worst thing is that it hasn’t even solved the space problem it was designed to solve. We do have flexible hours and can work from home though, which is the payoff.

    1. Oh no, that’s a shame 😦 I guess the one saving grace is that at least you can make your home environment extra cosy for when you work from home 🙂 I would love to see more businesses moving towards more flexible models – it seems so much more sensible to let people work from wherever they’re most comfortable to keep them motivated and productive!

  4. Leo McNeir says:

    Hi Kayleigh
    I have applied hygge to my work environment since student days. As a professional writer I continue applying hygge to this day. Sometimes I play soft background music (lute and sacred choral music), but usually burn joss sticks (a mild sandalwood variety from Japan) and often have a candle burning on my desk. Lighting of course is by desk lamps only. This has created the right atmosphere for me from writing essays and translations as a student to producing novels and dictionaries in my working life. Thank you for your charming articles.
    Med vennlig hilsen,
    Leo McNeir

    1. Hey Leo,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love the lute, it’s a very underrated instrument. Do you work from home or do you go into an office? The way you work sounds lovely 🙂


      1. Leo McNeir says:

        Hi Kayleigh
        I work from home, and my study is in a seventeenth century cottage in the country. The oak beams in the ceiling add to the hygge, and it has French windows leading into a conservatory, an added dimension with geraniums spreading across the interior walls and views onto a cottage garden. It’s strange to think that so much hygge helps me to write crime novels!
        Best wishes,

  5. lizziemoto says:

    A screensaver showing a cosy image like a mug of hot chocolate, a roaring fire or lovely textile patterns and change regularly!

    1. Ooh I love that! It’s something you’ll see every day as well, to remind you of lovely hyggeligt thoughts 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  6. Yoga Panther says:

    I’m all about having a stash of snacks. I have a giant Kilner jar filled with oat cakes, raisins, nuts, seeds and biscuits to graze on. Oh and red bush tea 🙂

    I have one of these pen holders that looks like a plant – for a bit of greenery.

    I also like to stick little inspirational quotes around my screen that I get in fortune cookies/Yogi Tea, like “Disbelief destroys the magic” and “Have wisdom in your actions and faith in your merits” 🙂

    1. Phwoarrr that Kilner jar sounds great – love the idea of having a little jar of tricks ready for the 11am (more like 9.15am in my case) hunger pangs! And you can never go wrong with office greenery 🙂

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