Excerpted from the Sweden Career Guide
Though thinly populated, Sweden is the largest country in Scandinavia. There are about 9 million inhabitants with a population density of just 22 inhabitants/km2. With about 53 percent of the country forested, the vast majority of Swedes live along the coast and in the south in major cities. The north is home to the Sámi, an Arctic indigenous people, closely related to the Finns, with communities spread across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
Nature is omnipresent and strongly influences the Swedish character. Nature and rural environments are easily accessible almost everywhere in the country. For example, a national park is only 20 minutes away by the commuter train from Stockholm’s city center.
Swedes are reserved but direct communicators. They tend to be literal in their speech and are not afraid to voice their opinions. Criticism, however, is not directed at individuals. When communicating, it is important to be clear and to the point. Swedes strive for sincerity and thus do not hand out or receive compliments lightly. The tone of voice should be moderate and calm. Irony and sarcasm are not appreciated by the Swedish in a professional situation.
People do not regularly work over weekends or holidays. Staying late at the office is not necessarily a good sign; it could be interpreted as one being incapable of accomplishing the job in the time permitted. Swedes will take work home with them if needed. Thanks to a well-developed IT infrastructure, it has also become more common to work from home.
If You Want to Act Like a Local...
The workplace in Sweden is a quiet and sober place. Sincerity and seriousness, not necessarily friendliness, are the most important qualities of a Swedish worker. Swedes distrust loud, overly friendly or boastful behavior.
Sweden’s culture is egalitarian and its workplace is no different. Senior managers and lowly staffers work together almost as equals on projects. Bosses provide guidance and make decisions. Subordinates provide detailed information and follow the bosses’ decisions. Managers typically use a hands-off supervisory style, allowing workers to function independently.
Conducting a Meeting
Swedes tend to get down to business quickly; small talk before meetings is often very brief. Meetings are short but frequent, and are often a way to allow all concerned the opportunity to air opinions. Subordinates and superiors speak openly during meetings in Sweden. All individuals share information and ideas, and everybody joins in the consensus-building process. This is true in both meetings of peers and meetings between superiors and their subordinates. It is not necessary to confirm decisions made in a meeting in writing.
Women in the Workplace
Sweden is the place for a career woman. Sweden is one of the world’s most egalitarian societies when it comes to providing women and men with equal opportunities. Swedish anti-discrimination law promotes actively maintaining a proper balance of male and female employees in the workplace. Although there are still some salary gaps regarding women, female employees quite frequently achieve high professional positions. Promotion is based on merit. Foreign businesswomen should have no trouble doing business in Sweden, and if taking a male colleague out to a restaurant, she can pay the check with no problem.
This is just a sample of what you'll find in the complete Sweden guide.