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Nine reasons Sweden is heaven for employees

You've heard it said - but is it true? Judge for yourself - here are nine reasons why working in Sweden rocks.

Nine reasons Sweden is heaven for employees
Photo: Getty Images

1. A whole heap of holidays

We’ll start with what might be the most obvious one. With five weeks of paid vacation by law and many companies giving employees six weeks, Swedes enjoy plenty of time off work. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for people in Sweden to take off an entire month or more in the summer. You won’t catch them checking work email during that time, either – holidays are sacred.

New to Sweden and interested in insuring your income? Read about the benefits of joining Akademikernas a-kassa

2. Hej då, hierarchy!

(Hej då means bye, FYI…) Swedes love equality. From preschool to university, teachers are addressed by their first names – and a similar force is at play in the business world.

If you work at a Swedish company, chances are you know the CEO personally. You call her (or him) by her first name and nor are you afraid to share your ideas with him (or her).

Of course that applies to gender equality too. Sweden is one the most gender equal nations in the world. And while it’s not perfect, you’ll find the glass ceiling in Sweden is much, much higher than in most other countries.

3. The importance of parenting

Here’s another one you’ve probably heard of: Sweden’s famous parental leave system. Swedish couples receive 480 days of parental leave per child, paid at about 80 percent of their salary. And if that’s not radical enough, at least 90 of those days must be used by the father – ensuring that men also get a chance to be stay-at-home dads. Parents are encouraged to split the leave as equally as possible.

We know of a few companies that even provide company hoodies for newborns before sending employees on their leave!

Photo: Getty Images

4. Awesome a-kassa (unemployment benefit funds, that is)

This one isn’t quite as famous a parental leave and holiday – but it should be!

Sweden has a great system in place to support those who lose their jobs. Those who sign up for membership pay a monthly fee – as low as 140 kronor a month for members of Akademikernas a-kassa, a fund specifically for those with post-secondary education. And then if you should become unemployed, you can get up to 80 percent of your salary (up to a maximum of 26,400 kronor per month before tax. Now that’s a safety net!

Think you could benefit for a safety net for your income? Find out more about how insurance with Akademikernas a-kassa works

5. Strong unions

In some countries ‘union’ can be seen as a dirty word. Not so in Sweden.

Here, there are unions for essentially all branches of work, and about 70 percent of all employees in Sweden currently belong to a trade union. Unions work with employers’ groups on a sector level to agree on conditions that apply across the board, and union-championed perks like a stipend for a gym membership are commonplace. And if a workplace has a “collective agreement” (kollektivavtal), agreed upon with a union, then that agreement applies to all employees – not just union members.

Members of unions frequently get perks like stipends or scholarships to help them learn new skills, too. Depending on the union, this could be anything from learning a new language to taking a class in marketing.

6. You can always learn

Speaking of learning new skills, did you know you can put your job on hold to go back to school?

In Sweden, any person who has been working at a company for at least six months has the right to take a leave of absences for studies. It’s unpaid, but your job will be waiting for you when you get back. That’s all thanks to the Employee’s Right to Educational Leave Act (Studieledighetslagen) of 1974. Booyah!

7. Fabulous fika (and how to do it remotely)

Fika is the Swedish social phenomenon – heavily enjoyed at work – where everyone drops what they’re doing and partakes of coffee and pastries. Many companies provide regular fika for employees in ordinary times.

You don’t want to miss out on some tasty office gossip and an even tastier cinnamon bun just because you’ve been forced to work from home, do you now? If the team fika breaks have ground to a halt during the pandemic, maybe it’s time to suggest staging one via video call. In fact, in Sweden you’re never required to work more than five hours without some sort of break, even if that break is just a ten-minute fika – that’s the law.

Photo: Jenny Jurnelius

Working in Sweden, you also get a real lunch break. Most people take a full hour off for lunch – and may even use it to enjoy some team-building fun. If you’re currently feeling trapped in your apartment while working remotely, use the time to go outside for some fresh air and (hopefully!) some sun.

8. English is everywhere

Granted, there are some jobs where Swedish is a requirement. But generally in Sweden – especially in the big cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg – you can get by just fine on English.

Many Swedish companies already use English as their language of business, and even if they don’t, Swedes are some of the world’s very best non-native English speakers. And if you do want to learn Swedish – which you very well should – chances are you can get paid time off to go to Swedish for immigrants (SFI) classes!

9. No polyester two-pieces

Day in, day out, same old suit in the same old cubicle … this is not a scene you would have seen in Sweden even before you started working from home.

Even in upper-crust lines of work, office attire in Sweden may be a lot more laid-back than what you’re used to. Swedish style is tailored and well-fitted but also very casual: jeans and a blazer is a perfect for both men and women in professional settings.

Loose-fitted denim, oversized blouses, and messy buns are also decidedly “in”, even in many public sector jobs. So, if you return to office working later this year, put the starch away – long live modern minimalism!

Akademikernas a-kassa pays up to 80 percent of your salary if you lose your job – find out more and learn how to join now

For members

WORKING IN SWEDEN

Ten easy-access cafés and libraries to study or work from in Stockholm

Whether you are a student looking for a place to study or someone who works remotely and is looking for a new atmosphere, Stockholm caters to a diverse range of preferences and needs.

Ten easy-access cafés and libraries to study or work from in Stockholm

At times, it’s necessary to seek out a fresh workspace or study environment to enhance our focus and productivity.

Here’s our selection of Stockholm cafés where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and the aroma of the beans in the air, to libraries where you can completely get into the zone and options that give you a chance to network in an office-like space.

Stockholm City Libraries

If you like to work in a quiet and peaceful place, then one of Stockholm City’s Libraries might be the place for you. It offers work and study places, free Wi-Fi and they also have printing facilities. A library card is not required to access the library, but if you want to borrow or reserve books then it is needed.

More information and to find the closest library to you, can be found here.

Stockholm University Library

The library on Stockholm University’s campus is open to everyone. This library has a mix of quiet work areas as well as noisy sections. Most seats have power outlets available, students and those who have access to Eduroam can use that network, but a temporary login can be found at the library entrance. In addition, there is a café and two shops situated within the same building.

More information can be found here.

Location: Universitetsvägen 14D, 114 18 Stockholm

KTH Library

Another university library which is open to everyone is the KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s library.

Here you can find a number of quiet places to work and study, with the majority of seats equipped with power outlets. Eduroam’s wireless network is available throughout the library along with a guest network, details on how to connect to this can be found at the information desk.

Café Stories is located in the entrance hall, but be aware that no foods, such as sandwiches, wraps or salads are allowed in the quiet sections of the library. Snacks and drinks which have lids are allowed in.

Find additional details here.

Location: Kungliga Tekniska högskolans bibliotek, Osquars backe 21, 114 28 Stockholm

Goto 10

Goto 10 allows its members to access work lounges, hold events, record podcasts and test a 3D printer all within their premises (they’ve also got hubs in Malmö and Linköping). The membership is free and in return you are asked to contribute to creating content for Goto 10.

Their lounges include Wi-Fi, seating with power outlets, microwaves and a coffee machine.

Information about Goto 10 and how you can become a member can be found here.

Location: Hammarby kaj 10D, 120 30 Stockholm

Scandic Hotel

The hotel group Scandic offers co-working spaces and a hotel room office in their hotels. Prices for their co-working spaces start from 99 kronor per day and it includes free Wi-Fi, power outlets, coffee and tea, printing and copying services, and a 10 percent discount on food.
The co-working spaces are available in all 270 Scandic hotels, in six countries and 26 of those are in Stockholm.

More information and a price list can be found here.

Bröd & Salt

The café chain Bröd & Salt has shops all across the city. The chain also offers a workspace subscription called Club Salt, which gives you access to six of their co-working spaces. These workspaces are located in Torsplan, Jarlsgatan, Odenplan, Kungsholmen, Fleminggatan and Uppsala if you want to venture outside the capital. They offer shared spaces to work, with power outlets and Wi-Fi, and the subscription comes with a discount on a variety of menu items sold at Bröd & Salt.

Subscriptions for the co-working space start from 599 kronor per month.

More information can be found here.

Espresso House

You can find Espresso House in many corners of the country. They may be part of a chain with everything that entails, but they are popular spots to work from, which is evident from the many laptops that can be seen when you enter. The cafés usually offer free Wi-Fi and some seats have a power outlet as well. It is important to note that it could get a bit loud in the café.

Find your closest Espresso House here.

Waynes

Another café chain in Sweden and in Stockholm is Waynes. The company has a number of shops across the city and like many cafés it provides free Wi-Fi and a certain amount of power outlets. If you do not want to travel too far, but still want a nice coffee shop to work from then Waynes fits that description.

Find out more here.

ilcaffé

Another popular café to work from is ilcaffé. Located in Bergsgatan, Drottninggatan, Långholmsgatan and Södermannagatan, this café has free Wi-Fi and a number of power outlets. The café offers a range of sandwiches, treats and coffee, so there is no wonder why it has become a popular work hub.

Information about ilcaffé can be found here.

Urban Deli

The hotel, restaurant and café chain Urban Deli has five shops in Stockholm. They are located in Sveavägen, Nytorget, Sickla, Centralen and Hagastaden. The shop in Sveavägen in particular is a popular spot used by those who want to enjoy a coffee or a meal and work or study away. It has free Wi-Fi and power outlets at certain seats.

You can find more information here.

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