People Innovation Excellence

Sweden’s ‘Lagom’ Philosophy in the Office

Employers who want to create a collaborative and innovative place to work could pick up some tips from the Swedes. The Swedish philosophy of lagom translates as “just the right amount”. In practice, that means favouring moderation, balance and collectiveness over individualism, hierarchy and overwork. It is an appealing proposition.

Achieving a sensible work/life balance for employees is particularly important for Swedish businesses, where working an 80-hour week and then boasting about it is definitely not lagom. But how do you bring some of that Swedish culture to an office?

Lars Nordwall, chief operating officer of a Swedish start-up in California, avoids monthly key performance indicators. He says the targets force people to work long hours and cancel planned time off to push performance higher or make up for poor planning, thereby creating a culture of mistrust, stress and lack of motivation.

Instead, Neo Technology follows an annual operations plan, which staff help form. “We assume that people will work 40 to 50 hours a week, not more,” Mr Nordwall says. Managers are coached to not burn out their staff by planning in advance and prioritising better, and employees are encouraged to leave early on occasion. By feeling trusted, they are likely to go above and beyond at the times the business most needs it.

Fellow Swede Lars Bjork also wanted to inject his culture into the software business he runs in Pennsylvania. The only way to strike the right balance, he advises, is to test and see what works, “swinging the pendulum”, as he puts it.

Mr Bjork, chief executive of Qlik, says staff may work from home if that suits them. However, he adds that one thing that is hard to avoid is weekend travel for Monday or Friday client meetings.

Teamwork is an important part of lagom, and Mr Bjork says many company decisions are made collaboratively. Employees use software to access Qlik’s plans and data, so that they are more informed for the decision making process.

At Neo Technology, Mr Nordwall also says, employees are asked to contribute to most company decisions. As they tend to be less stressed, he says disputes, misunderstanding and mistrust are rare: “We strive for consensus . . . however, as soon as a leader has made a decision, we may not all agree but we respect the decision and stick to it.” Although employees are asked to voice their opinions, it is made clear it is the leaders who will make the final decision.

Listening to others is an important part of their home culture, both Swedes say.

Mr Bjork runs regular employee listening forums. He says a trusted environment in which employees can raise tough issues without fear of retribution can only be created over time. He listens without “trying to manage the comment, which is what most people are afraid of”. He is also aware that suggestions must be acted upon to make employees feel their views are respected. “It makes people comfortable to speak up.”



Lagom is a word which comes from Sweden that can be interpret as ‘just the right amount’, while the Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines Lagom as ‘enough, sufficient, adequate, just right’. When this word is connected to daily life of Sweden society, it can be seen from how they live in balance on every aspect, including trying to balance between private life and work life.

One of a few deciding factors in doing a business is to have satisfied workers first, which is why we agree on what some companies in Sweden do, taking the lifestyle of Lagom into consideration and applying it to the real life situation, by decreasing the work hour, from 8 hours to 6 hours, to ensure its workers happiness, which will bring advantage to both party.

Not just physically, but also mentally, it’s essential for a company to make sure both conditions are fulfilled for its workers. A considerable amount of work is what will do, thus they can leave work faster and return to their private life. Communicating with others outside work, doing a hobby, relaxing at home, anything that suits each of them, can boost up their level of happiness.

In the end, as a result, company will earn highly motivated workers whose work efficiency will increase, which allow them to achieve above the standard of 8 hours worker work result. With this situation, not only it’s benefit for the workers themselves, but also for the customer, company, and country itself, which is already proven as Sweden is one of countries with a high economic growth rate.

In many ways this is admirable. It is part of the self-restraint that has allowed Sweden to be an egalitarian society, a place where unions work harmoniously with industrialists, where people take their work seriously, but leave before 5pm to be with their families. It’s hard to understand is how it makes sense as a lifestyle to aspire to. Many of the rituals, recipes and decoration ideas that filled out last year’s mountain of hygge books would fall outside the lagom threshold. To Swedes, they’d seem fussy, a bit much.

Lagom underpins all that we’ve come to admire in Scandinavians: a lack of fussiness and pretentiousness, plenty of contentment and quiet confidence, functional architecture and pared-back design, modesty and wholesomeness, unfussy cuisine and an emphasis on the communal over the individual.

Business in Sweden is not difficult to understand. They are more relaxed and it makes them easier to adapt although it will become a habit that is different from most other countries that are more formal. We must learn to be on time according to their habits that come on time, finish the work on time, and go home on time compared to having to overtime. Because they respect each person’s private time, they are casual in dealing business and his hierarchy is shorter and direct

In this case explains that timeliness is very important for the citizens of Sweden in the job because they do not want to waste time just to “fika” or taking a break to drink coffee. according to its own citizens sweden saving time is just right for things to them so that the work can be completed in a timely manner. moreover, tradition “fika” in the office can be 2 to 3 times a day, so it will more often if rarely see a fellow partner at nothing in Fika coffee breaks or in the office. punctuality is very important in terms of jobs for the citizens of Sweden so for office workers so that accuracy up at the office with homework from the office is always on time for the citizens of Sweden.

The precision in hours worked is the main thing for workers in sweden. do the saving of time in more work in respect of the country’s workers of sweden, compare with the rest with drinking coffee many times, the population of the country Sweden would prefer to sit down and finish their work, so it’s a common thing if rarely see the swedish a break to drink coffee.

The term “lagom”, is not just about work and life balance. But it also tells people in office or business to work in teams and listening to others as priority in order to get the quickest and best results, therefore it benefits all. Although individualism is highly valued in Sweden, “lagom” seems to get it balanced by teaching the people to be modest and not boasting around. It will be a very interesting different side if Americans are doing business with Swedes. The first are known for their over-proud and over-confident behavior talking about themselves, while the latter will only talk as much as “say just enough”.

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Selly Novela
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