Finnish work culture: 6 weird things that are normal in Finland
Finns do things differently. Instead of sharing that Finland is the happiest country in the world or reeling off facts about the number of saunas, lakes or forests per capita - this article promises to fill you in on all the weird and wonderful curiosities that will surprise you in the Finnish workplace. Whether you’re considering relocating to Finland, or have already accepted a job offer, make sure you’re fully prepared by getting to know the top 6 things that make working life different in Finland.
Prepare to get sweaty
If you've accepted a job offer with one of the hottest new Finnish companies, you'll probably have an office sauna. These spaces are the pride and joy of the workplace, often boasting a relaxation lounge, fully-loaded drinks fridge, swanky showers and plush dressing room. Your Friday after-work thing? Be prepared to get sweaty and unwind with a cool drink in a (very) hot sauna - with the rest of your colleagues. Thankfully no one gets naked in the office sauna, so pack your swimming gear and get ready to head full-steam into the Finnish work culture.
Finns have meetings in the sauna
Finns have a long history of taking business meetings in the sauna. Although rarer today, some next-level companies have fully-equipped meeting room capabilities in their office sauna. Think built-in plasma-screen TV with full audio and video capability. Though mainly used as a gimmick, it's not unheard of for Finns to surprise their American colleagues by joining scheduled video meetings from the sauna. Quite the surprise.
Grown-ups drink milk at the office
Finns love milk. While in most countries, milk with lunch is something you'll only find in schools. In Finland, the practice continues into the workplace. Don't be surprised to see grown-ups grabbing a glass of milk in the office canteen at lunch, it's a normal part of the business culture. Finland has the highest milk consumption per person in the world. Some Finns are so loyal to milk that when Oatly - an oat drink brand - broke into the Finnish market with their 'Milk Myths' booklet, many responded by burning it in the sauna (and posting it on social media). Don't worry; there are many dairy and non-dairy milk options to choose from nowadays.
Put your best sock forward
Many Finnish offices have a no-shoe policy. While some of your new colleagues may have indoor shoes, others will sport their best socks. Don't be surprised if your weirder colleagues go barefoot, especially in the summer. So if it's your first day in your new office, make sure you look sharp from top to toe.
Don't sweat the silence
Finns aren't the loudest bunch. Be prepared for long pauses when you ask a Finnish colleague a question, and don't try to fill the space with nervous waffle. In Finland, it's normal to pause before answering. Their communication style puts more value on responding meaningfully. While this can be unsettling for newbies, it's one of the things most foreigners grow to love about Finnish work culture.
Coffee - it’s about quantity
You may have heard Finns drink a lot of coffee, even more than Italians! Per capita, Finns drink the most coffee in the world. However, many people fail to mention how Finns drink coffee. Filter coffee is king in Finland, and you'll likely find one or two pots on the go at any time in the office. But be warned: the office pot of coffee is usually as black as night. Unless you like your coffee extra strong, we recommend starting small and dilute, dilute, dilute.
Curiosities aside, Finland is considered one of the best places for work life balance. The country puts a strong emphasis on equality, fair working hours and better work life balance. English speakers do well in Finland, as many speak the language. Although if you're planning to stay longer, many ex-pats are encouraged to learn Finnish to integrate better into Finnish society.
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Photo by Daria Liudnaya