Working in Sweden

The Swedish workplace is relaxed but professional. Companies take care of their employees and there are plenty of opportunities for qualified expats, particularly in education, engineering, mining and medicine.

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Doing business

Sweden ranked 10th in The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2018. Its economy remained stable throughout the global and Euro crises, and its economic growth has mostly been above the OECD and EU averages for the past five years.

Despite its progressive social policies, the Swedish government limits its involvement in the private sector. The economy is driven by innovative industries and a highly skilled labour force well-protected by local laws. Exports also play a major role in the country’s economy. Competition for jobs is often fierce – being aware of local business culture will be key to your success.

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Business culture

Swedes keep their work and private lives separate. Despite generous leave allowances and flexible working hours, you’ll be expected to maintain high levels of productivity.

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Communication style

Reaching a consensus is integral to doing business in Sweden – so be prepared for a lot of meetings. Everyone’s opinion is valued and decisions are carefully considered.


The Swedish workplace doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on hierarchy and the collective is valued above individuals. Open-plan offices are common and managers are expected to be approachable.

Professional conduct

Colleagues call each other by their first names, but you’ll be expected to keep your emotions in check.


Punctuality is important. If you aren’t on time, expect your meeting to start without you.

Fast facts

Business language

English is widely spoken in business, especially at the multinational level.

Business hours

Usually from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.


While every business in Sweden has its own dress code, most offices tend to be quite casual – jeans and a long-sleeved shirt are a popular choice for men.


Businessmen and women greet one another by shaking hands.


Giving gifts isn’t common. With a big emphasis on transparency, it might be seen as inappropriate.

Gender equality

Women are treated equally in the workplace and hold a high number of senior positions in top companies.

Expat salaries

Expat salaries are generally high to offset the cost of living.

Research the culture well and ensure you have adequate local support from your employer.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Sweden

Making life easier for expats

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Achieve your ambitions at HSBC

HSBC is one of the world’s leading international banks, with a network covering over 70 countries and territories. Our global reach and values-led high performing culture fosters continuous professional development, flexible working and opportunities for you to grow within an inclusive and diverse environment.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in June 2018. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.