I have to admit, my transition from working in England to Finland wasn’t smooth. Although it didn’t help that my qualifications weren’t recognized here, I accept responsibility for not having made myself well enough informed about how to manage it best. Once I was able to receive integration training, I offered my services where I studied when learning Finnish.
Working as a school’s network manager before, I saw opportunities for improvement and could help in managing any unavailability of services. Unfortunately, this mostly resulted in being told to email someone and never receiving a response. In the past in England, I have worked a variety of roles from warehouse and customer services to building and testing computers. That said, in Finland before my current position, the closest I got to a real job was on a work practice at a local grocery store.
From my time here, my experience has taught me 3 facts about the work-life balance in Finland.
Also known as telecommuting or working from home, Finland is leading the world in flexible working. I have never worked in a job before where I have flexible hours. In the past, I was always working 9 to 5 or a similar fixed arrangement. I haven’t even worked part-time for a long while before now and I really appreciate the freedom. I have a set amount of hours that I’m expected to work, much like any other job, but they are fewer and I have the opportunity to decide them.
It goes without saying that when I’m required I make myself available but if there are school presentations or parent’s evenings then I can be there and be involved. Also, I am given time to focus on my health and hobbies, the pressure of waking and working from dawn until dusk doesn’t apply. On top of that, I don’t have to suffer the stress and wasted time of a routine commute to work and back. Working from a home office means that I have the responsibility for ensuring a sensible and suitable working environment but also the ability to furnish it how I feel is right for me.
Regarding company communications, we constantly keep in touch via Microsoft Teams and are almost always available to support each other immediately.
In England, I was never provided with assistance in the form of hardware or software tools. Most of the things I utilized in my day to day operations were paid for out of my own back pocket. With MEDI Connection, we discuss what it is I need to do my job better and the support is there. Still, It’s not as if I don’t buy what I need to expedite the process sometimes but if so I am reimbursed and this is far more rarely the case.
Language skills development
When I was working in England, getting support from employers for relevant education necessary in developing my skills to assist in my role was challenging at best.
I’ve been through the system with language courses and training and I have to say that classroom learning has never been the best environment for me. Assessment is slow and having to be tied to a specific place with travel time and the sometimes extensive time between lessons was creating significant downtime and not very productive. I’ve been taking distance learning courses before and always-available access to materials with mostly instant feedback feels more like what learning should be to me.
I have been offered support with the continued development of my Finnish language skills through MEDI Connection and I know this is the right route for me. I can use my free time to improve and as I work from my home office, I have no unproductive downtime to interfere with my progression. I am the only barrier to my development.
Regarding occupational healthcare, as stated on the KELA website “Employees are entitled to preventive occupational health care financed and arranged by the employer. The provision of medical care is voluntary for employers.”
This is welcome news indeed and yet another reason to feel peace of mind when working in Finland.
Taking a holiday in England could also be an issue where you just can’t get the time and get run into the ground. The last time I took a trip back to England to visit my family, I was able to manage work while away from my home office. But should you want or need to take a break, maybe go off the grid down at your summer cottage? Information about paid holidays explaining annual holidays and holiday pay can be found from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration website.
Although this is about work-life balance, it is certainly worth noting the achievements related to equality in the workplace in Finland. According to Business Finland, “Equality forms a core value for Finland and its people, and the best symbol of Finnish equality is a personal pronoun from the Finnish language: hän. The third-person singular pronoun hän is neutral in terms of gender and social status, so it represents equal opportunity.”
In Jyväskylä, where I live, there is a statue of young Minna Canth who strove for women’s rights in the late 1800s. You can read more about her impact on Finnish society here.