Before I started my internship at Laurea I’ve heard a lot about the “no hierarchy” approach, the equality, the flat organizational structure in Finnish companies. It was in opposite to what I have always heard or read about the feudal structure of Polish organizations and many complaints coming from employees and labor experts.
My last experience from working in Poland comes from many years ago, from the years 2000 until 2005. I assume and hope that a lot has changed since then. In addition, of course many depends on a company itself, its management and culture. But well, among the biggest complains Polish employees make are the long working hours and that it is not well seen if you leave at the time you are supposed to leave, that is after 8 hours of work, and that the boss is always right and his ideas are best. Those examples come from a research based on a survey done in selected companies operated in Poland.
I have also some experience from the US, although I worked there as a freelancer. However, the overall attitude was that work never ends. At that time, my husband was doing his PhD at a university and he and his colleagues were 24/7 at work. There was so much to do and such were the expectations.
At Laurea on the other hand I observe a completely different approach. First, everyone seems to be relaxed, but it does not mean people do not work. To the contrary, I cannot see that anyone is wasting his or her time scrolling Facebook or chatting with others for half a day on topics not related to work. People do work and they are focused on their tasks. Until it is time to go home. I also don’t see anyone doing extra hours, sacrificing ones family life.
Also, if you do not feel well, you get flu, you stay home and no one makes a big deal. You simply inform the team on a communicating online platform and everyone wishes you to get better soon. This is something quite different from what I’ve heard from employees in Poland. In my home country, it is common to keep coming to work with flu or even fever; no matter sneezing or coughing you must show up in the office.
Friendly atmosphere and no hierarchy at work
So far, my experience at Laurea is that the hierarchy is nonexistent. We in a team are all equal, although we are definitely not. Some of us are only trainees and some of those trainees are only students, while others such as myself, have a long work experience. Some of the team members are supervisors, one is a manager, and some work here for 13 years, while others started just a year ago. But it all doesn’t matter, or in other words it does matter only in a sense of how much experience one has. People treat each other with respect, everyone is eager to help.
I am also very positively surprised how the young trainees behave. They are confident, kind but not shy or lost, they are eager to ask questions and they are very well skilled. It tells me a lot about the overall level of the Finnish education because I can see its results.
I myself was also very well received here. Although I might be somehow an exotic creature within the team: a non-Finnish speaker, OK, I do speak vähän, I do my best, I try to understand what others are talking about, but it is harder than I thought; a foreigner in an all Finnish team; a trainee but not a student.
Still everyone is super helpful, if Finnish doesn’t work, we switch to English. I have my well-defined duties: interviewing, writing and proofreading in English for the English version of Laurea’s website and other publications, such as “Forerunner” magazine. Laurea’s policy is to become more open to internationals, so the content in English is also becoming more and more important. It satisfies me a lot that I can make my small contribution to that.