How to bring Finland's best workplace's culture to Sweden?

Jun 24, 2019, 3:06 PM

For Nitor, company culture is everything. We have even won awards for it. After opening our business in Sweden in 2017, we are in a new situation: how to export our company culture to another country?

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The differences in Swedish and Finnish working cultures have long been a source of humor at least in Finnish organisations. In Finland, we claim that the Swedes spend their days in continuous discussion (“att diskutera”), consensus seeking and avoiding decision making and conflicts. The Swedes, on the other hand, have coined the expression “Management by Perkele” to describe more direct, plain-spoken and sometimes hierarchical Finnish working culture.

So, how will we tackle the differences so that the Swedish Digital Engineers will find their place at Nitor?

Reading code is easier than reading culture

For Nitor’s Digital Engineers, solving logical and technical challenges is bread and butter. We trust our talent and expertise so that we even promise a lifetime guarantee for our code. Still, we have been able to create a unique and flourishing culture, which is quite an achievement for a digital engineering company.

We build critical and highly complex systems for our clients and yet we have to admit that culture is always way more complex and complicated than any software or service we build. Understanding culture and all of its nuances is one of our passions as a company.

Building internal culture in Sweden began quite organically in 2017. The first team that moved from Finland to Sweden had known each other and worked together at Nitor for years. Now, we are starting to welcome more digital engineers to Nitor in Sweden and this is when our culture will be properly tested.

The first steps towards shared culture

  1. Homely Office
  2. In Sweden, we have our office in Slussen above the Fotografiska museum, overlooking the harbor and the old town. We decorated the office in the same style as the Helsinki office, with a replica of artist Erik Karlsson’s Goat painting.

  3. DevDays for the win
  4. Like in Finland, in Sweden we spend 10 % of our work time in developing ourselves and our teams. It’s a great chance to improve our knowhow but also spend time together outside the customer hours. In addition to these DevDays, our Swedish crew spends time together for example arranging bowling and cooking evenings.

  5. Agile methods are universal
  6. Our answer to the more humorous tension between Management by Perkele and the Swedish need for “att diskutera” is, agile way of working. It gives maximum flexibility to the team to choose their way to work, make decisions, develop and ultimately succeed in a way that is sustainable for them and our customers.

Our journey in Sweden is only beginning. As the Swedish team grows, each new person naturally brings their own unique skill-set and personality into the mix. We don’t think there is any need to force a particular culture, as long as the foundation for the company is solid.

To conclude, no matter the location, Nitor focuses on creating great employee experience by providing top-class environment, continuous personal and team development, and agile way of working together.

Digital engineering company Nitor is Finland’s best work place 2019 for a second year in a row (read more). This summer, we also reached the podium as one of the best workplaces in Europe (read more).

Author

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Janne Järvinen is Nitor’s People Operations Specialist with a background in social sciences. He has experience in building and developing IT companies and teams in Finland and Sweden.