Written by our Content Manager and Writer, Nidhi Dhingra
We went on to ask, ‘What, for you, makes the work culture in Sweden so different?’, and heard back from both newbies and oldbies in Sweden, originally from or having worked in countries across Europe, Middle east, Asia and the Americas, in varying professions.
Putting together the many conversations and our own experience together, here’s the bitter-sweet (though, mostly sweet) of working in Sweden:
Clear employee rights and work structure
Work life balance is sacred
Ask anyone what they would most miss about working in Sweden, and it’ll be the quality time it allows one with self and family.
No prizes for over-working
‘In Singapore, if you leave at 6 pm, it’s like a crime. There is an unsaid mandate of staying till 7.30 pm, whether you have work or not’, Suresh, a Senior Solutions Engineer tells us. ‘Dubai is kinda similar; you don’t leave for home before your boss does’, says Hysen, a Director-Sales & Marketing.
In Sweden, working extra very often to impress your boss will only tell him or her that you can’t manage your workload very well. It also increases the risk for the company that you could burn out, have more days of sick leave, and feel overall less satisfied with your current workplace. Most Swedish workplaces want you to feel good and not squeeze that last drop of working power out of you. ‘Holidays in Sweden are to be respected and enjoyed’, notes Shanalie, an Internal Audit Specialist, from France.
That said, ‘it is also important to remember that while the system allows for work-life balance, it’s left up to the individual to ensure that he or she does not overwork. Your manager may not be to help you with it on a regular basis’, clarifies Naresh, a Digital Data-Analytics Lead.
Fika (or coffee) break, twice a day
Great respect for time
Punctuality is the norm in Sweden, and it is very important to play by this rule if you’re to make a good impression on your teammates. A 2-pm meeting means that your colleagues will be ready for you five minutes prior. Hustling into the meeting room at 2:05 pm will only be seen as unprofessional.
This rule, in fact, extends to Swedish social circles as well. ‘When you set an informal appointment in Sweden, let’s say a 12.30-pm lunch, ten days from now, no one feels that it needs to be confirmed closer to the day. Whereas in Brazil, it is smart to check again if your lunch mate is still up for it’, shares Ivy, a Compliance Counsel.
It is not for nothing that Swedes are notorious for pulling out their calendars to schedule even informal engagements with family or friends.
Open and relaxed work environment
Faith in the individual
Promises are honoured
‘A big difference to Bulgaria is that Swedes don’t promise their clients things that are impossible to achieve, be it a deadline or completing a task. They are more realistic. In Bulgaria they would say “yes yes no problem, we fix it”, but most often they are unable to deliver’, remarks Tatyana.
Built on consensus
‘There isn’t much out-of-the-box thinking in Sweden. Also, both organisations and individuals take forever to open up and hence collaborations can be challenging’, shares Vidhya, a Data and Information Architect.
Private and professional are separate
Gender equality is hyped
About the Author
Hej hej! I’m a writer and illustrator originally from India; and now call both India and Sweden home. I have had a 2-year stint in Gothenburg — easily the best two years of my adult life. An explorer at heart, I travel often; armed with a curious mind, a sketchpad, notebook to scribble in and my taste buds – exploring by-lanes, discovering treasures, gaining new friends and experiences.