The Swedish Workplace
Last week I had the pleasure of moderating a panel featuring employees from Lyft, LookBack, Klarna and Dropbox, on the subject of the difference between work cultures in the US -- specifically Silicon Valley -- and Sweden.
- In the US, the lack of employment security creates a fear of losing one's job, which in turn creates an environment where people don’t necessarily speak their minds or voice their opinions, especially when that is contradictory to that of the boss.
- But that fear can be mitigated, at least amongst the younger demographic, by the fact that there’s an abundance of jobs and it's almost considered a bonus to have been fired… in Silicon Valley.
- In the US, you need to know how to promote yourself or you will get overlooked. While in Sweden, people will automatically recognize the benefits of what you did.
- The thing that makes Silicon Valley so special is obviously the ecosystem, but it’s also the sheer abundance of start-ups.
- Sweden has a better overall work-life balance than the US, and Silicon Valley specifically.
- Vacation in Sweden is considered good. It’s not just something we’re too busy to take. It’s something we all do together. The whole country stops for the summer, meaning you’re not necessarily losing business. And there’s a general understanding of the benefits of vacation. There’s a national movement that also helps glorify the summer and vacation as a whole.
What are we taking away from it? I want to continue my quest of introducing Swedish values to the workplace - to create a social democratic workplace in the midst of San Francisco! What’s first – the introduction of Fika! Stay tuned for the next blog to find out exactly what that is and why we need it! After that? How about we start a social movement campaign to reinstitute the importance of vacation, and the detriment of being busy and working long hours.
It was even more special to have my dad there, all the way from Sweden, and to be able to juxtapose his long work experience with how we’re currently doing things, both in Sweden and the US.