We get it a lot: how do you say it? Hig-ee? Hij-ee? Higg? What does that even mean?
Let’s break it down for ya: hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish concept. If you know anything about the Danes, it’s that they’re considered the happiest people in the world. The secret to their happiness is often considered hygge, which is basically the idea of being cozy, comfortable, warm and happy, to the point where you have a sense of wellbeing. In the U.S., “hygge” is applied a lot to interior design, but we think that misses the mark. For us, finding your hygge is just as much about finding the people who support you and cheer you on through life’s ups and downs as it is about having a cozy space.
Hygge can be different for everyone, though. In September, we talked to a few of the #hyggefam to ask them what hygge is to them. Building a business, being an entrepreneur, working as a freelancer and even working remotely for a company can be incredibly hard. Even more so, it can be incredibly lonely. We asked all of the people featured here why they sought coworking. You can see all of their responses here:
First up, meet Brandon Strohmeyer, a software engineer who works remotely for a company on the west coast. He became a remote worker about a year ago and quickly realized it’s pretty damn lonely:.”I was missing something but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was until one day I realized I hadn’t actually seen another human being for days. I had to get out of the house and hygge was actually the first place I went to because it was the first place that popped up. It was within the first couple of minutes that I realized not having coworkers but just working within the same vicinity of other people was exactly what I was missing. I just kind of never left.”
Of course, being a remote worker has its perks as well, but Brandon needed some interaction with others to help balance the good and the bad: “Having a incredibly flexible schedule is the most convenient thing. I don’t have a desk I have to go to or I don’t have to be in an office at a certain time, it’s very much so on my time to do whatever I want, but at the same time that’s also kind of hard. People just expect you to do your job. Coming in to hygge helps a lot because it kind of puts you back on a schedule. You wake up, you go to work, you go to hygge, and I’ve become much more productive being a remote worker doing that, but at the same time I get to keep that flexibility if I want to come in late one day. It was negatively impacting me to be a hermit. I was not happy, feeling down. Finding people to be around dramatically improved me as a person I think.”
One of our newest #hyggefam members, Lindsey Miller, moved to Charlotte only 2 months ago. She’s had her own photography business for about 10 years now primarily focusing on event and corporate event photography in addition to editorial work. She’s had to move her business before, so she new the first thing she needed to do was find a spot where she could plug in and meet local peeps:
“I’ve flirted for years with the idea of finding a coworking space but they weren’t fully formed the right way in other cities where I was living. It wasn’t as collective feeling; it was just a group of people who showed up somewhere to do work and it didn’t feel very cohesive. I moved to the Charlotte area but not quite into the city yet, so I needed to get into the city to sort of be here and have access to a working environment. I ultimately decided to join to meet people. Hygge specifically seemed to offer a lot of things other than just a place to come be.”
Finding a place where she can more organically meet others has helped Lindsey quickly acclimate to Charlotte, find new clients and make some new friends, too: “Definitely in other times in my business, 100%. This is my fourth time moving as a photographer, so I’ve had to introduce myself to a new market multiple times now. It is never easy and entering a market where there’s already people doing what you do and trying to vie for space is tough. I’ve found the best way to do that is meeting other people and being very human about it, and not bumping up my SEO to be the first person on Google’s page. Meeting people and having those organic connections has always worked best for me.”
Building your own business can be a lonely thing. Building your own business in a brand new city where you know few people can be even more lonely. Everyone, meet Luke Gilbert, the founder and owner of Modern Accounting. He started his business in Boise, Idaho, but just a few months ago moved to Charlotte with his girlfriend. Luckily, he kept many of his clients because he can work remotely for them, but it will still a huge move.
“It was a very big change, and that’s part of why I wanted to join a coworking space, so I could get an idea of what’s going on in Charlotte in terms of small businesses and what the environment’s like for entrepreneurship. I’ve worked at firms before I started my own business and it was different being by myself and not having workers and other employees expecting me to come into the office. It’s nice to kind of have someone there to hold me accountable and stay on track and be productive for the day. I do work from home quite a bit as well, but I like to change it up. I’ll do phone calls and stuff in the morning and then come in in the afternoon. It keeps it fresh and exciting. The best part I think is just meeting different people that are doing similar things to me. Maybe not the same industry or type of business, but people who are entrepreneurs and growing something themselves.”
Sarah Ann Schultz
So… like… making friends as an adult is really fucking hard, right? It honestly sucks, so to embrace putting yourself out there to build a community of people who support you, inspire you and help you grow is a big deal. Sarah Ann Schultz did exactly that when she moved to Charlotte from Pennsylvania earlier this year. She works remotely doing marketing for Hope International and it can be a challenge at times:
“Remote work can still be tough, but I love Charlotte. I think people that do really well in remote work are very productivity, task-oriented people who feel really satisfied checking off things on their list at the end of the day, and I’m a much more relationally motivated person. For me, it’s been a really good day if I’ve collaborated with someone on something or had a really good conversation or got really good feedback on something. That’s why I think I’d wither and die working from home. I’m really motivated by other people being productive. I knew if I did the coffee shop thing I’d spend a ton of money and I’d see someone in a corner reading a book and I’d want to be doing that too.”
“At the beginning I pretty much went to any event I knew was happening. I went to vegan lunch at hygge the first week I was here, dinners with my church, or I’d look online for events for young professionals. I’m not the most outgoing person, but I knew I wasn’t going to have that built in social exchanges through working in an office, so I knew I needed to be intentional about this.”
When you’re going through a tough time, you need a community of people to be there for ya. That’s what Josh Brown, or JB, discovered this year, which has been one hell of a tough one for him. He went through a break up, he wasn’t meant to stay in Charlotte, his grandfather passed away, his stepdad has cancer and, for a few months, he had no home. JB went through all of this while in the University of Tennessee’s Aerospace and Defense MBA. Basically, he’s had a lot on his plate, and he wasn’t handling it well on his own, so he decided to look into coworking:
“I have a bunch of friends here in Charlotte but they all work, they’re all married and most of them have kids. I didn’t have anyone to hang out with during the day and I was super depressed being at home and couldn’t focus, so I decided I wanted to find a place to go every day that was dedicated to me and still had interaction with people. I spoke to more people the first week while I was here just walking around than I did in the entire 2 months prior to being at hygge. My mentality has changed pretty significantly in the past month that I’ve been here.”
“I wanted to get an MBA about 10 years ago but my professional life wasn’t really going that great and I didn’t want to invest the time in studying for the GMAT and taking it. I put it in the parking lot but always had it as something I wanted to do. I want to be a leader of an organization, I want to lead a team of people, and based on the fact that I’m not a veteran and don’t have a lot of tenure in the industry I’m in, I decided that I needed something that would set me apart from my peers. So that’s when I decided to do it and I think the more important thing is I’m sticking to it. I think a lot of people would have quit. That’s another reason why hygge’s been so important to me because even though I won’t be here long, it helped me stick out goal.”
Lastly, meet Meredith Smith, the brand new founder of Content Pros, a content marketing business she took over just a few months ago. Previously she had worked in human capital consulting, so the switch to entrepreneurship with an entirely remote team was a big change for her:
“In my prior life I worked at a company of 14,000 people, so there were always people you could relate to, there were always people you could have fun with and I was friends with my coworkers. It’s a good support group, but you kind of connected with people based on what you did, whereas in a coworking space you’re connecting with people based on who they are. I really enjoy that new aspect of meeting people with such a diverse group of people. It’s people in different careers, different industries, people who are looking to interact differently. I’ve made a lot of friends here too, so it’s not just work, it’s play.”
“I wanted to find a place where I could interact with people who are business owners, because this is a new thing for me – a big shift. I’ve always been very passionate about women’s empowerment and women’s leadership, and there’s plenty of female business owners who are willing to share resources with you, share ideas with you, support each other, and that’s huge for me. It goes back to the diversity of people who are here to support you in whatever way they can.”