Another week, another post for ‘Work After Study: The Series’! The third part is focused on what the Swedish workplace is like. Why stay in Sweden? What can you tell me about the working culture? How about diversity? Let’s find out!
Staying in Sweden as an international, why?
The main argument for many when asked why you would want to stay in Sweden is simply because we really enjoyed studying in Sweden. You tend to meet a lot of interesting people during your studies and if a few of those people are considering to stay, then you might do the same. In addition, you get to know the Swedish culture during your studies. There are a lot of elements that I like personally. I like how people here are both individualistic yet want to work together, that there’s a great focus on work-life balance, and that everything tends to be quite informal.
What is the Swedish working culture and workplace like?
The company culture obviously depends on the company that you will be working for. However, there are a few main aspects that can be found in a lot of companies located in Sweden. First of all, everything is fairly casual. This means that people dress casually, that the hierarchies are flat and you call your boss by their first name. It is a punctual culture, so walking into a meeting half an hour late is not really appreciated. And finally, people work hard but makes sure to not stress too much. Everyone is very focused on their well being and being stressed is definitely not part of feeling your best!
Raghu was kind enough to give us some insight into Ericsson’s company culture specifically. As Ericsson has been going through some changes lately, their culture has changed too. From the mindset of big player to one of a challenger, a bit more dynamic. In terms of international culture, Erricson is really great. Raghu told us that there is still quite a few big companies that have at least part of their internal communication in Swedish. At Erricson, it’s all in English. The Swedes working at the company will talk English 80% of the time, just to make sure that people can always join the conversation. That way, language is not a problem at all. And since it’s international, it’s also easy to make friends.
Okay, so how important is speaking Swedish?
Speaking Swedish is a competitive advantage because it gives you two things. From the employer’s viewpoint, you’re interesting because learning how to speak the language shows that you plan on staying in Sweden. You’ve put in effort and are thinking about a long-term future in this country. In addition, it opens up more opportunities. A lot of smaller companies will require you to speak at least a little bit of Swedish. Related to this, there are a lot of people applying for the limited amount of jobs that only require you to speak English. So, speaking at least a little bit of Swedish will make you stand out and increases the number of jobs you can apply for.
How about diversity?
This completely depends on the company and the industry. Some companies are extremely diverse, and some are not as much. Working in a company with a lot of diversity means that you will have to adapt to some of the workplace norms, routines and customs. Doing this does take some time. As for Raghu, this is still a work in progress and he gave a great example for this: ‘It’s been 1,5 years and I still don’t fully understand how everything happens. For example, we work very closely in a team and in this team there are five people from different hierarchies. So there’s the partner, a few levels in between, and then me, the analyst. In a discusion I tend to take what the partner says as a fact, something I don’t challenge as much. In Swedish society however, it is expected of you to challenge things. I have to push myself to do this, because this is very different from my Indian background.’ So, quite a challenge but also something that you can learn so much from!