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Spotlight on Sweden and Finland with Lars-Olof Janflod, Genelec

Spotlight on Sweden and Finland with Lars-Olof Janflod, Genelec

Spotlight on Sweden and Finland with Lars-Olof Janflod, Genelec

Open Mic – our regular Q&A channel for industry insight

Where are you writing this from? 
From my home on the island of Ekeroe, just outside Stockholm, Sweden.

How has the lockdown affected you? 
Sweden has taken a slightly different approach compared with other countries, although the aim of keeping the now-famous curve down is the same. I would say that the difference has been that we have allowed schools to be open, with the exception of universities and colleges. We have restrictions for restaurants based on social distancing principles, but no restrictions for going outside, as long as you keep a distance. Another difference is that the responsibility to observe social distancing, to stay at home if you are sick, etc, is put on us as individuals. Personally, I have been at home and working from home since late February with very limited face to face meetings but a lot of online meetings.

How has your company reacted to this?
Genelec was very early in taking measures against the spread of the disease. Among the first things were to stop international travel, and getting everyone that can work from home to do so. Basically, it’s only people in our production department that still go to the factory to build products. However, measures have been taken there as well. Production now works in two shifts, a morning shift and an afternoon/evening shift. The main aim is to minimise the number of people in the building who are active at the same time, making it easier to keep social distancing. Apart from freezing international travel, we also stopped trade show participation after ISE. Now, most shows have cancelled anyway, so as such it’s not been significant as a decision.

What are you having to do differently, and could any of this be adopted going forward?
Actually, there are some benefits to having more regular internal online meetings. We have instituted a regular Monday afternoon meeting for all our “international” employees in China, Japan, India, Spain, UK, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. This is a regular CEO information meeting on the latest developments in the company. We also have a more informal weekly meeting run by our HR department mimicking our afternoon coffee breaks. As travel has been frozen, meetings with business partners and end customers have turned from f2f meeting to online meetings and training webinars.

Any silver linings?
Going forward and looking to the day when we come out of this, it is certainly true that nothing can replace f2f meetings in business. However, this development has shown that with improved online meeting apps and software, many f2f meetings can be replaced by online meetings, to the benefit of the environment. It’s also been nice to see how solidarity has grown between people and age groups. Hopefully we will see a more thoughtful society in the future as a result.

Any useful advice for the industry in these times?
It’s hard to give general or specific business advice as the situation is so different between people and companies. A lot of people have lost their jobs and there are no jobs to apply for. Some can get unemployment support, some cannot! It’s truly the biggest crisis in my soon-to-be 70 years on this earth and it is still filled with a lot of uncertainty. Whatever situation you are in as a person or company, follow the advice your authorities give you to minimise the spread of the disease.

Are you noticing signs of anything approaching normality?
It’s too early to tell, to be honest. The number of cases seems to have decreased here in Stockholm, which has been most badly hit, but on the other hand it seems to have gone up in other parts of the country. In Finland, where things have been closed down, and particularly the Helsinki area, which has the highest population density in the country, things are being opened up, and now there is a government decision to open schools, other public places and businesses. Still, social distancing is strongly encouraged and enforced.

What do you predict the rest of the year will look like for the industry?
I am sorry to say but in many ways 2020 will be a lost year. It’s when we get safe and reliable tests in place and eventually a vaccine that we will see a real difference and some kind of normality.

Further ahead, what’s the future going to look like?
It may sound naive but hopefully a better world where we have learned that honesty and transparency are key to leading the way forward, and that we as people are sensible enough to punish politicians and political parties who do not stand up for these values. A good outcome would be a more humane world without opportunistic politicians who lie and cheat.



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