Dan Toomey, who lives and works in Finland, thought it would be a fun experiment in comedy to contrast work cultures in the two countries.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 31, 2022. It has since been updated.
As labor shortages continue in the United States owing to The Great Resignation, policymakers are looking to other countries to figure out how to motivate Americans to return to work. One of those countries is Finland, which has been praised for its employee-centric approach to building policies for companies to follow. Unfortunately, this has led to the creation of some (rather hilarious) stereotypes. Mocking these stereotypes, and contrasting them with some of the workaholic stereotypes of Americans, one TikTok video has gone viral for its funny take on work in the two nations. The videos were created by Dan Toomey. Toomey is an employee at Morning Brew, a daily email newsletter covering the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
The Prime Minister of Finland: "A 4-day work week, a 6-hour workday. Why couldn’t it be the next step? Is 8 hours really the ultimate truth? I believe people deserve to spend more time with loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life such as culture." https://t.co/uODqP0yETo— Michal Rozworski (@michalrozworski) December 16, 2019
Toomey first developed the video about what Americans think the average workday is like in Finland. He states, "With all the news about the four-day workweek in Finland, a lot of my American friends have been asking what my workday looks like." The video, therefore, is his answer. It begins with the employee stepping out of his sauna in the morning. He then enjoys a mug of hot chocolate hand-delivered to him by his company. He follows the drink up with a nutritious breakfast of muesli and pine needles.
Around 11 am, Toomey sits down to work. "Since we all work at Spotify," he states, he starts his tasks for the day by listening to some "ambient synth music." Of course, he sits in a felt blanket for added comfort. Around this time, the employee's daily $5,000 bonus comes in the mail. Next, he has a conversation about Eurovision with Finland's 36-year-old Prime Minister. After some lunch of cold herring and more pine needles, he takes a break for his daily walk through Narnia before he returns to work for his first and only meeting of the day. To wrap up the day (at 3:30 pm), he receives a second bonus in the mail.
In stark contrast, the video of the American workday looks like a ridiculous routine from hell. "So, a lot of people saw my last video," Toomey notes in the clip. "And they said, 'What do you think the average American workday looks like?' So here it is." In the follow-up TikTok, the American wakes up at 4:30 am on a Sunday and "sprints out of bed in record time." After repeating the pledge of allegiance, the employee prepares a breakfast of 12 eggs and a gallon of whole milk (all while looking at his phone).
He then writes emails for three hours. Toomey continues, "He has his first meeting of the day where they all share big numbers then make a million dollars." At that point, dozens of dollar bills rain down on him. Following a quick lunch of "every fast food there is," the employee squats at his desk and memorizes a PowerPoint. To wind down for the day (at an early 1 am), he places a spreadsheet under his pillow and gets tucked in by Jeff Bezos himself. The two videos have been praised for their hilarity, and in many ways, for their critique of work cultures in both countries. As we confront questions about building resilient and healthy workplaces, perhaps all business owners should watch Toomey's TikToks.
So I just put in my resignation letter…— Cinneah of Flynanced® (@flynanced) January 20, 2022
I’m leaving my current company after less than 2 years to grow my skills & income.
My new offer was a total compensation of $362,000.
Fully remote. Unlimited PTO. 401k match. Great healthcare. New challenges I’m excited to conquer.