When the Doors Were Opened

Everything started when I left my beloved Iraq in 2015 and came to Sweden. I had to leave a life, a family, a career and a future. Everything. To start anew. In the middle of summer 2018, I entered Swedish working life. It was Garantell who opened the doors for me. I can clearly recall the day I biked through the fragrant and dense forest to get to Speditörvägen 8. Things I knew for certain: That day was the beginning of a new chapter in my life in Sweden. I was more than ready, full of gratitude and brimming with curiosity. I had great expectations and felt a strong drive.

Where had I ended up?

It was only later that I started to think about where I had ended up. What kind of company was it anyway? It didn’t matter much, I already felt something for Garantell. I was driven and I felt convinced that my ambition fit in well here. Simply put, I wanted to be a part of this team.

Everything worked smoothly and everyone seemed calm and confident. I liked the first impression I got. The red curtains, the stylish décor and the anthracite grey floor signified stability and security. Eventually, I learned the Swedish term ‘lagom’ which very loosely translates to ‘just right’, in other words, neither too little nor too much. A balanced dose that creates satisfaction and acceptance.

Worked hard to adapt

Like most of my fellow Iraqis, I have a reputation for being friendly and extremely outgoing, which made it difficult to personify the ‘lagom’ lifestyle. I had to put some effort into curbing my enthusiasm and constraining my body language! It was challenging. But the ‘Swedish way’ appealed to me and I worked hard to adapt. I observed a lot and eventually felt content to just talk about the weather, lunch, the news, and the weekend’s plans – things that are classic topics of small talk amongst colleagues here in Sweden. I became more and more comfortable with the Swedish system.

My best teachers

In the midst of my enthusiasm, I got to know new people who became my best teachers in the workplace. My colleagues showed me a great deal of patience. I was taught and corrected, encouraged and appreciated – the phrase “It’s no problem at all!” and said with a friendly smile is a common occurrence here at Garantell. I guess I was a little confused at first. My Iraqi background had taught me to stand strong in an environment where mistakes were not well-tolerated. Garantell’s philosophy, on the other hand, is that you make mistakes in order to learn and develop.

Self-leading team

Every day, we focus on the company’s goal: to simplify everyday life. I look up to Garantell’s developmental mind-set. You show each other how things are done and learn from each other, and you accept each other readily. Here, everyone has the right to express their personality, structure their tasks and contribute to a pleasant working environment. I was accustomed to a clear hierarchy in the past, but here I feel assured and satisfied playing an active role in a self-leading team where each individual’s strengths are emphasised and where there’s always room for new ideas.

Work quickly without stress

We work continuously with time optimisation. At the press brake and laser machine, I learn to optimise my time and often I hear someone say: “Work quickly, but don’t rush!”

“Wait, what?” I think to myself. I have not yet fully understood what is meant by that. Perhaps that’s still a bit too Swedish for me. Managing stress is something I probably have to work more on, especially when you have to perform and keep to delivery schedules.

Focus on well-being

Garantell places a lot of focus on well-being and on creating healthy and stress-free working conditions. The latest technology, automation, total comfort when it comes to protective work equipment, music in the offices, comfortable sofas, armchairs and soft rugs where you can socialise with a cup of coffee or a fresh piece of fruit (of course, a shoe-free area as is Swedish tradition), ongoing maintenance of the premises and thorough cleaning, just to name a few. This all makes me happy here. Accuracy and attention to detail are things I recognise in myself.

Like a billiard ball

The structure here makes pretty much everything flow smoothly, like a billiard ball rolling quietly and gently towards the hole on a green felt table. Effortlessly, in other words. Or perhaps not really? When I started working at Garantell, it seemed to me that everything was moving very slowly. I had to readjust when I joined the Swedish system where things have a built-in slowness, as an antidote to stress. I now realise that things change when there is order and structure and when even the minutest details are considered. Swedes are very good at planning well in advance before they act. Although I was sceptical at first, I have to admit that I am happy with this structure because I am also a structured person. That’s why I appreciate the Swedish system.

Start arriving on time

Despite all the challenges, Garantell is doing its best to ensure that I love my job. I feel something for Garantell, the first company to open its doors to me. Every day I become a little more Swedish. I’m not losing my identity as a friendly Arab but, who knows, maybe I’ll even start arriving on time for appointments or when meeting friends! Because that’s an area in which I’m still very much Iraqi.