The Adventure Continues, Viking Style…

We continued our journey in Sweden but this time we visited the beautiful city of Stockholm.  Our first stop was a company called SANDVIK.  This was a unique company in the sense that, even though not many of our colleagues could relate to what the company did, we did learn a lot about how the Scandinavian culture influences how businesses operate.  Specifically, our host spoke of this book that the Human Resources Department uses when determining how to integrate their workforce more efficiently called Start With Why by Simon Sinek.  This book emphasized the importance of always asking “why” before asking “how” or “what.”  Coming from the United States it is hard to imagine a workplace where this mentality is emphasized in the culture of the business.  The fact that a company as large as SANDVIK is able to demonstrate this type of culture, makes it even more amazing.  It is definitely something that separates a country like Sweden from the United States.

IMG_8120 (1)

The city is even more beautiful at night!

Another thing that we learned while at SANDVIK is the importance of diversity and integration within the workforce.  In the United States, there are many large corporations that claim to want to have a diverse workplace, but a company like SANDVIK appears to be ahead of the curve when it comes to perfecting this idea.  Not only do they understand that diversity goes beyond the ethnicities of individuals (and also refers to gender, age, sexual orientation, disabilities, experiences, skills, education etc.), but they also understand the importance of integrating these individuals in their teams to maximize their potential and efficiency.  Again, this idea is not a new concept, but it appears to be one in which the people of Sweden have mastered.


The rain tried to stop us, but we didn't let it!

We also visited the second largest bus operating company in Sweden, Kelois.  After riding around various public transportation systems in both Gothenburg and Sweden, it was  refreshing to see how a company that is in charge of transporting so many people operates behind the scenes.  One thing that caught our eye that was interesting and blended well with the culture demonstrated in SANDVIK was the fact that they used “activity based seating.”  The idea behind this is that there are no set places for each person to work in everyday, day in and day out.  When you come to work you clock in, grab your laptop and can sit anywhere that is open and available (all the desks also are equipped to be turned into a “standing station” if you please).  The great thing about this is that it helps integrate the workforce in a similar way that SANDVIK pushes to integrate their diverse workforce. It was quite interesting to see how these two large companies featured such fluidity. They seemed to resemble more of a start-up culture than large corporate culture.  


A view of old town from one of the many bridges connecting to it.

Keolis has 3 company values: 1. Safety 2. Passenger Priority 3. Responsibility and respect towards each other.  This last value is a good demonstration of the company taking the integration of their workers seriously in that they try to make their workplace fun, integrated, and respectful.  Keolis is headquartered in Paris, and accept several Parisian workers every year and give the option to send people to Paris in an effort to expand the cultural knowledge of their company and to help the company to work more cohesively. This is a first-hand example of creating a responsible and respectful workplace (they even help pay for French classes so that if employees choose to, they can learn French to be more respectful of each other and the cultural differences between France and Sweden).  

Overall, we were very impressed with how companies that are so large such as SANDVIK and Keolis were able to exemplify the Scandinavian business culture.  From their presentations and the walk-through of their companies, it was evident that they are taking the right steps into growing their businesses efficiently and ethically while still maintaining a commitment to the Scandinavian business culture. We think that there are many things that contrast these businesses against American businesses.  For example, they have a heavy emphasis on people (mandatory 5 week vacations are a real thing people), diversity, and integration, and we think it was fascinating to see how they operate on a business level while still focusing on their cultural values.

FOOD BLOG PART 3: Delicious desert in the Old Town

 APBT 2 (1)  APBT 1 (1)

P.S. Too many selfies have been taken on this trip! See you next time!