It’s here! Another installment of our How People Work Around the World series and today we’re finding out how to work and play Scandi style in Sweden.
North Americans are taking fewer and fewer days off. The United States is one of the few countries around the world that does not guarantee paid time off.
While we have a side hustle series here too and I’m all about working and contributing to our families, society, and the world, overworking has ill effects on health and can actually make us less productive.
It can greatly hamper your creativity too.
A growing body of scientific evidence explains what many of us have learned from unpleasant experience: Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back. Ideas that once flowed easily dry up, and tasks that you should be able to perform quickly become excruciatingly difficult.Minda Zetlin, Inc.
Don’t Forget There are always Pros and Cons
Every country has its pros and cons and any regular traveler and expat will tell you that no place is perfect.
I’ve learned, as an expat, that some things that sound great on the outside have other consequences. For instance, countries that offer free education, even through college, typically have really high taxes. You always want to do real research to get the down-low. Still, Sweden comes up often as one of the top countries with the best work-life balance so maybe we can all learn a thing or two.
Johnny Warström, CEO and co-founder of Mentimeter a Swedish-based interactive presentation platform, says it is about trust and valuing quality over quantity.
Johnny Warstrom, Mentimeter
In Scandinavia there is a sense of trust between employees and employers, in which employees are trusted to do their job, and go home when they are done, this is somewhat removing issues around presenteeism. Longer hours don’t necessarily equate to increased output.
Burnout is fast becoming a serious issue in the workplace* because not enough employers are creating a culture that celebrates a healthy work-life balance. Placing value on hours ‘seen’ working – which includes being reachable out of office hours by phone or email – corrodes business growth.
At Mentimeter, we value quality over quantity, encouraging employees to leave on time to enjoy their life outside the office. I’ve found that leading with example works best. For example, if I send my team emails late in the evenings, it’s easy for them to assume I expect the same from them. Instead, we want to empower employees to make healthy and honest choices about how they fulfil their responsibilities at work.
In addition, Swedish companies often practice a horizontal company culture and are encouraging employees to become their own boss and taking initiatives, which creates a more collaborative environment. Also, companies often emphasis the importance of teamwork and collaborative work. For example, each year we take the entire team on a one-month relocation, the change of scenery is a breath of fresh air, and can definitely be felt in the team’s engagement – most significantly in how they collaborate across different teams.
We can see the value of shared experiences having a direct impact on business results. From every retreat, I see how we come back a more efficient team with numerous innovative ideas that wouldn’t come up in a normal week at the office. Living together in a new city, as a team, nurtures a positive company culture that sees employees both trust and have confidence in each other. Through shared experiences, our social bonds with colleagues improve and our working relationship.
Overall, it is important to clearly communicate and demonstrate to your team that their wellbeing matters. Click To Tweet
I love that about switching up your environment. While I enjoy working from my home office, I find that even packing up and heading to a local coffee shop helps me have renewed energy and new ideas.
Day In The Life
Johnny comes to work between 8 and 9 am. He kicks-off the week with a team meeting using their own platform Mentimeter to discuss different matters and to make sure everyone’s voice gets heard. They have clients all around the world, so depending on what the focus is for the day, and how many meetings he has scheduled, each day looks different. On a normal day, he goes home around 5 pm.
So what are some of Sweden’s Work-Life Benefits?
According to The Local:
- 5 weeks’ holiday
- 4 weeks off in the summer
- Paid more while on vacation
- Paid to go to the gym – healthcare contribution
- 480 days of parental leave per child which parents can split
- Paid leave if your child is sick
- Six-month sabbaticals – unpaid but great if you want to start your own company or study
David Brudö, CEO and co-founder of mental wellbeing and self-development platform, Remente has personally felt the ill effects of overwork.
David Brudö, Remente
I suffered from work-related stress, which later led to depression. At the time, I didn’t know where to turn to for help, apart from going to see to a psychologist. This led me, together with experts in the field of mental wellbeing, to develop Remente
To achieve work-life balance in today’s fast-paced world isn’t always easy – it is becoming even more difficult to separate work from our personal lives as we always tend to stay connected. However, it is vital to try to encourage a healthy work-life balance and “leave work at work”, both for health reasons and the ability it has to boost employee’s productivity, and ultimately performance.
Click To Tweet “It is vital to try to encourage a healthy work-life balance and leave work at work.”
At Remente, we have a typical Swedish company culture, which is less hierarchical and focuses on involving the whole team when it comes to making decisions around the daily work balance. We have seen first hand that setting motivational goals together increases productivity and reduces stress, as it gives the team clear and manageable direction. In addition, we offer health benefits to our employees, promote meditation and utilise the Result Oriented Workplace Environment (R.O.W.E) principle, which provides employees with the freedom to work when and where they want, helping them to manage their work-life balance.
Deciding together as a team is great. When your team has goals and direction that they created together, everyone tends to be more in harmony and happier.
Day In The Life
David also comes to the office between 8 and 9. He checks his emails and prepares for any meetings on the schedule. On a normal day, his day ends between 4 and 5 pm. Every day he and his team have a 10-minute meditation session. On Friday he tends to work from home and spend time with his family. Work-life balance is something that David values and focuses on.
Did you know there is a Candy Crush office in Sweden?
Curious about Expat Life In Sweden?
In this video Kate discussing what is a good salary in Stolkholm Sweden, healthcare, transit, and some pros and cons…
More “Day In The Life” Sweden
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Teacher in Sweden
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That Home Office:
Where do you want to hear about next? Let me know in the comments!