News & Views

Colleague to Colleague Goes Cross-Border: Josephine & Risto

25 March 2022

Risto Ojakoski works as an associate and Josephine Lindgren as a senior associate in our Employment Team, Risto in Helsinki and Josephine in Stockholm. We asked them what the key to successful cross-border teamwork between them and their team is.

Get to Know Your Colleagues and Gain Their Trust

I find it invaluable that I have Swedish colleagues like Josephine whom I can contact with any questions related to Swedish employment law. And even if the matter at hand doesn't have a direct connection to Sweden, it can be useful to gain some perspective of how things are done across the gulf. Josephine and I have worked together on a variety of different assignments, from large-scale M&A projects to smaller day-to-day assignments and client webinars. Especially in more intensive projects, teamwork may of course pose a few challenges when you’re separated from your colleague by a 400-kilometre stretch of the Baltic Sea. Sure, we have video calls, chats, and all sorts of virtual tools. But, as we know all too well having lived through a pandemic, any number of video meetings just doesn’t match up to meeting your colleague in person. A while ago, I had a chance to visit Stockholm to meet Josephine and our other Swedish colleagues — some of them for the first time — and this week the whole cross-border employment team got together here in Helsinki. So, I guess the recipe for successful cross-border teamwork is the same as with any other team: get to know your colleagues and gain their trust. In a cross-border team, that means you just need to put in some extra effort.

Members of the Very Same Team

A common misperception is that the regulations and rules in all of the Nordic countries are the same. Although there are many similarities, such as the presence of collective agreements and statutory benefits, there are also major differences. An HR professional responsible for employment matters in both Sweden and Finland can be quite surprised to learn that, for example, termination rights, cooperation procedures, working hours, and whistleblower protection are governed by very different rules in different countries, especially considering that many such regulations are based on EU legislation, which most people expect to be implemented the same way in neighbouring Nordic countries. But even if the rules are sometimes (or quite often) not the same, the way of reasoning has obvious cross-border elements, as the core of all employment-related rules is the protection of the employee. This means that we can bounce ideas surrounding various issues even if the details of the regulations are not the same.

Therefore, working with Risto and the Finnish Employment Team in its entirety is a vital part of our client offering, and our close cooperation enables us to seamlessly handle cross-border matters as a one stop shop. In my opinion, the key to successful cross-border teamwork is primarily maintaining a continuous dialogue, sharing experiences and best practices, and not looking at each other as remote colleagues but members of the very same team. As we regularly handle cross-border reorganisations and HR procedures taking place simultaneously in both jurisdictions, great coordination and alignment are also of immediate importance for our common processes to be successful. Risto and the Finnish Employment Team make these procedures very easy and productive, always being available and taking a practical approach considering both Finnish and Swedish aspects. In addition to our productive teamwork, I greatly appreciate the opportunity of participating in cross-border events and experiencing Helsinki and Finnish culture.

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