What Are the Biggest Obstacles You’ll Face When Working in Sweden?

swedish-moose: biggest obstacles you will face while working in Sweden


Working in Sweden: The Challenge Has Its Own Rewards

Moving to a new country is always a challenge, yet it can be a very rewarding experience.  It can open-up avenues for new learning; expats add to local teams and best-case scenario bring new ideas and vitality that shake things up in their new organization in a good way.

HR professionals dealing with Global Mobility will recognize that expats need more support than most companies have time or resources to give. This is especially true in the beginning, when the new arrivals are in transition. 

Who is Looking at the ‘Soft’ Side of your Relocation?

Most companies recruiting globally to cover skills gaps or aiming to have truly international teams will provide some assistance with relocation and immigration services. That is all good stuff and is certainly of great benefit to the person moving so they are not entirely frazzled when they turn up to work.

Yet, the soft side of moving is harder to address. A new hire that comes to the office the first day wants to shine. She wants to prove herself as worthy of the investment her employer has made in her by recruiting, hiring and moving her to a new location. That is a lot of pressure and most expats really do want to show their appreciation by being a great asset to the company.

It’s Hard to Know What You Don’t Know

One of the most common sources of misunderstanding is based on “we don’t know what we don’t know”. It is almost impossible to ask relevant questions or figure things out that you don’t know you should be attentive to.

Examples of things that foreign recruits arriving in the Nordics may not notice at first include:

  • Our obsession with punctuality. 8 AM means 8:00 AM or really 7:55 AM, not 8:03 or 8:07 or even 9ish or even worse a no show. Do that and your team quickly lose all confidence in you.

  • Talking – ever heard the term the “silent Sweden”? It is for a reason. Swedes get really irritated at chatty people and quickly assume that they are incompetent bubbleheads that won’t accomplish much. Chatty can be charming: at the right time.

  • Most countries have hierarchical corporate structures while in Sweden it is seemingly flat. It is utterly confusing to most expats that arrive and asking the right questions is key.

    Not just the right questions: ask the right person. It might not be the person you initially suspect!

Moving across borders to a new job is a major life change. It’s important to know how to avoid culture shock and make it a positive experience. With proper preparation, it’s transforming. We all have it in us, but we need support.

That’s why we created NIM.MERSION’s Expat Success: Professional Inspiration course.

The videos and worksheets in this course will help unlock each employee’s magic potential. Here’s a bit of what we will cover:

  • A comprehensive move to Sweden checklist
  • Tips on how to stay safe
  • The unwritten rules in Sweden
  • Swedish office etiquette
  • The nuances of working in Sweden
  • Work and family life in Sweden
  • Swedish culture


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