• Sweden's news in English

Seven terrible things to say to a Swedish boss

Paul Connolly · 2 Dec 2015, 07:13

Published: 02 Dec 2015 07:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Dec 2015 07:13 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
1. "No, thanks, I can’t stand coffee"
The Swedes take their coffee very seriously. Per capita, after the Finns, the Swedes are the second-largest consumers of coffee on the planet. They may not be a religious people but don't take the name of Java in vain. If you don't like it, well, you're going to have to lump it because the sacred ceremony of 'fika' (coffee and cake - dieters you must also abandon all hope) is celebrated at least twice a day. And you don't want your new Swedish boss to think you're not a team-player, do you? Tea drinker? Nope, it doesn't count.
Time for a coffee? It's always time for a coffee. Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se
2. "Where’s everyone gone? It’s only 5pm"
It's time to disentangle yourself from all your previous working practices. Take lunch. Have coffee breaks (see above). Go home on time. Many parents in the office will likely have already gone to pick up their kids from school at 3.30pm, so there might only be a skeleton crew left by 4.30pm. Don't be a hero, don't think that your boss will be impressed by the fact you're prepared to put an extra hour in. He or she won't. They'll just think you're a saddo with no friends or family.
Where HAS everyone gone? Photo: Pixabay
3. "Is Mattias still on paternity leave?"
Mattias (or Tomas or Tobias, you get the picture) is almost certainly availing himself of the generous 16-month parental leave which can be shared out between mothers and fathers, with two months of that set aside specifically for each parent. Indeed, there are plans to introduce a third month of paid parental leave reserved for fathers in a bid to further increase gender equality.
It's not an uncommon sight in Sweden to see a clutch of men pushing buggies round town centres before stopping off for an afternoon latte. Mattias might be your favourite colleague but you'll just have to chill out. You may not see him for a while yet.
A father and child. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se
4. "A desk where you stand up? What’s the point of that?"
Standing desks have become commonplace in Sweden. There are few offices that don't have the option to at least share access to a standing desk. Their health benefits are obvious even if the choice may seem to be to sit at a desk and die early or stand at a desk and look stupid. That huge leather office chair you used to lust after, the one with the inbuilt drinks cabinet, that's a no-no. Stand up for your new Swedish boss.
Swedish workers having a meeting standing up. Photo: Henrik Trygg/Image Bank Sweden
5. "I am feeling rather sick but don't worry I'll come into work anyway"
UK and American bosses in particular are, in The Local's humble experience, not known for their high sympathy levels for sick workers. Most of them don't actually believe you are ill at all, but are calling in from the cocktail bar of a lavish hotel. Even if they do believe you, they would still rather you came in to slog through a few calculations on that spreadsheet before going home after an hour having spread your virus throughout the entire building. 
The Swedish boss' mentality is much more sensible. Stay at home until you are well. Do not spread your illness. A sick worker is a liability, even if, when he or she's at home, they somehow manage to build a pirate ship from scrap materials (true story).
Story continues below…

Don't go to work if you're ill. Photo: Allan Foster, via Creative Commons
6. "I’ve never worked for a female boss before. How do I deal with the hormones?"
Sweden has more women in executive roles in business or politics than any other European country. Its position as one of the world's best nations to be a woman is therefore secure. It also means there's a very good chance that your new Swedish boss will be a female. So show some respect. And don't expect your male colleagues to laugh at any sexist jokes either.
Women bosses are very common in Sweden. Photo: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
7. "I don’t need any help with the report – I’ll just stay until 10pm to finish it off"

Get used to the phrase 'work-life balance'. You'll hear it a lot in Sweden. Swedes may not all be quite ready to graduate to six-hour working days (despite a recent media storm about the concept), but the number of hours they work each week are among the lowest in Europe. Most people simply do not work that late, although more are starting to reply to work e-mails out-of-hours on their smartphones.

The Swedish workforce is all about cooperation too. There's no great scope to be a maverick - if you try to do it all yourself, you'll simply be frozen out. If there is a pressing deadline, everyone will be expected to work extra hours and muck in. All for one and all that. There's simply no need to try to be workaholic - it just won't get you anywhere.

And, if you thought that all this down-time, parental and sick leave, short hours and general civility would leave Sweden in the economic doldrums then you'd be mistaken - Sweden recently announced record growth figures.

Now, time for that coffee break...

Don't bother working late. Nobody will thank you for it. Photo: Flee, via Creative Commons

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Paul Connolly (paul.connolly@mac.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

What's on in Sweden
Five great autumn events in Sweden this week
Jazz in northern Sweden. Photo: Umeå Jazz Festival

Food, music, movies and more food. What better way of helping yourself forget that the days are getting shorter and colder?

Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available