Finnish work culture

Colleagues meet with their laptops inside a modern office building. - Mikko Törmänen / Keksi Agency

Mikko Törmänen / Keksi Agency


In opportunities for skills development in Europe

European Skills Index Technical Report 2020

Let’s dive into Finnish culture – and explore what you might expect to find at a Finnish workplace.

If you’ve ever met a Finn, chances are they’ve mentioned the reserved nature of their countrymen. While Finns jokingly like to reinforce these stereotypes (and poke fun at them), you’ll usually find that people in Finland are warm, sincere, and honest – both at home and at work. 

A woman wearing jeans sits inside a modern egg-shaped chair. - Yiping Feng and Ling Ouyang / Helsinki Partners

Credits: Yiping Feng and Ling Ouyang / Helsinki Partners

Design is part of Finnish DNA, so it’s no wonder many offices are stylish, cozy, and equipped to support well-being.

Three colleagues enjoy coffee on an outdoor terrace. - Markus Sommers / Business Finland

Credits: Markus Sommers / Business Finland

Enjoying coffee with colleagues breaks up the workday. Did you know Finns drink more coffee than any other nation?

Experience flat hierarchies

Finns are strong believers in equality, and these egalitarian values also apply at work. Titles and seniority may vary, but everyone has equal worth. Corporate hierarchies are flat, everyone is expected to voice their thoughts and opinions. Furthermore, people use each other’s first names at work rather than formal titles like “Mrs.” or “Dr." -- and this custom often extends to the CEO!

Find work-life balance

At work, Finns typically enjoy lunch and coffee breaks with colleagues, and some offices even have organized sports teams or hobby clubs. And while Finns are hard workers while on the job, most draw a firm line between work and life: once they leave the office, the workday is over. 


Furthermore, taking time off for rest or a well-deserved vacation isn’t just expected – it’s encouraged. Typically, employees have four to six weeks of vacation per year, and many use their vacation time to take long breaks during the summer months. There are also numerous workplace holidays. Finally, even though religion doesn’t play a central role in the lives of most Finns, many bank holidays reflect the Christian calendar, so you can expect to have days off around Christmas and Easter.

A child meets his dad after work. - Mikko Törmänen / Keksi Agency

Credits: Mikko Törmänen / Keksi Agency

Is it 5 p.m. already?! Time to close your laptop and head out to spend time with family or friends.

Say what you mean

Finns are efficient: they follow schedules, meet deadlines, and plan ahead – and they expect others to do the same. They also take words at face-value. If you say you’ll do something by a given time, people expect you to do it. 


At work, employers trust employees to put forth their best effort and expect people to complete projects correctly and on-time. If the job gets done and the quality is sufficient, managers usually remain hands-off and let the work speak for itself. And if a workplace issue crops up, it helps to remember that Finns are pragmatic problem-solvers. Talk to your team or manager, and they will help you address the issue. In Finland, it’s OK to ask for help.

Grow into a better pro

In Finland, learning never stops. Finns heavily invest in education, and skills development is an important part of policy-making. Further information on Finland's higher education and wide range of study programs in English can be found at Study In Finland.


The spirit of life-long learning is also embraced in the workplace. According to studies, Finland actually offers the best opportunities in Europe for employees who want to develop their professional skills at work.

It is common for people who are already in the workforce to continuously acquire and learn new skills. One of the places to find e-learning courses is Microsoft Skills for Jobs, a program that offers a gateway to becoming a competent technology professional and the opportunity to progress in your career. Tens of thousands of job opportunities open up for technology professionals each year. Whether you are interested in enhancing your technical skills or staying updated on the latest industry trends, Microsoft Skills for Jobs offers a variety of courses to assist you in reaching your goals.

People work and study inside a university building.  - Team Finland

Credits: Team Finland

Finland has 13 universities and 22 universities of applied sciences, and Finns believe in lifelong learning.

Go by the book

Finns like rules and tend to follow them. In a Finnish meeting, for example, expect a clear agenda that gets straight to the point and mutual agreement on an approach or solution to address any issues. 


This penchant for structure is also reflected in Finnish laws, rules, and regulations – for both employers and employees. Various legislation and collective agreements determine things like minimum wage, working hours, holidays, sick pay, and terms of dismissal, as Finns believe having clearly defined standards for everyone levels the playing field. 


Furthermore, discrimination of any kind is not tolerated in the workplace: Finland’s constitution guarantees equal treatment regardless of race, religion, gender identity, and more. So, while diversity and inclusion efforts are still a work in progress, employees of all backgrounds, beliefs, and ethnicities are legally entitled to work in a fair and supportive environment.

Take this information with a grain of salt

While this article provides a general overview of what to expect at work in Finland, every company, workplace, and person is unique. Who knows? Your future Finnish colleagues might just be the chattiest group of co-workers you’ve ever had.

Make sure to apply for a job in Finland to experience the work culture of this Nordic nation.