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Achieving a good work/life balance is the ultimate goal for every employee. As a global organisation, we support employees across all nine of our offices to maintain this culturally nuanced balance. Of course, some countries are more successful than others in this field. Sweden is one of these countries, its progressive policies and emphasis on employee wellbeing meaning that it consistently ranks highly on the work/life balance scale. The majority of Swedish companies will allow their staff to leave earlier on Fridays. Most offices will be closed the day before a public holiday to give employees the time to prepare for the upcoming celebrations. When you go on holiday, you are not expected to monitor your emails. Calling someone after 8pm is considered extremely bad practice. In this way, there is a clear divide between work life and personal life: quality time is sacred and Swedish society commits to protecting it.

Building regular breaks into the working day is a popular way of protecting quality time which, of course, is not limited to the time that people spend outside of work. A typical working day might include three significant breaks: two lots of Fika and a lunch break. Fika involves taking a break from whatever it is that you’re doing and spending that time with family, friends or colleagues. It tends to involve coffee and a sweet pastry, but it is much more than just a tea break; it is “a way of recharging your batteries to relax for a short little while, and to collect yourself to go on with your day” – from the podcast A Swedish Fika. 

For K2 Sweden, the 24/7 demands of global mobility will sometimes put a strain on the team’s work/life balance. They tackle this by being extremely respectful of each other’s time and workload. For example, if somebody is at full capacity and an urgent piece of work which falls under their remit comes in, immediately passing it over to them is not the default action. Rather, colleagues will try to work together to complete the task, combining expertise to speed up the process, thus ensuring that the individual doesn’t have to sacrifice their evening to work.  

Mandy Liew-Persson, Client Services Lead – K2 Sweden, comments that “mutual respect between colleagues as well as between employees and employers facilitates a good work/life balance. There’s a good understanding of what’s important in our lives and respect for leisure time.” Liridona Ramadani, Immigration Commercial Coordinator – K2 Sweden, adds that “prioritising work/life balance increases your productivity. Regular breaks give you something to work towards, putting you in a positive mindset, whilst being confident that your colleagues will go that extra mile to support you facilitates the development of a more trusting relationship with them.”  

Research supports Liridona’s claim, with data gathered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealing that countries which build quality time into their working day (e.g Sweden with Fika and France with long lunch breaks) are much more productive than those that mandate long working hours (e.g Japan and Korea). Across the board, then, work/life balance should be so much more than a nice-to-have or an ideal, as it is a catalyst for productivity (as well as many other things, including employee satisfaction) and an oft-neglected ingredient in the creation of strong working relationships. 

So what does K2 Sweden’s commitment to maintaining a good work/life balance mean for its clients? It means that there is no clash of cultures, a potential risk of working with an international company; K2 Sweden is authentically Swedish, its working environment a product of the Swedish culture. In practical terms, this means no communications at unsociable hours, no lack of understanding for people being unavailable once they have left the office, and no differences in the format of meetings or the etiquette adopted during them. All of these things can compromise both operational efficiency and the strength of the client-provider relationship. With K2 Sweden, the Swedish arm of an international company, there is no risk of compromise. 

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