Working in Denmark

Workplace environment

Danish working culture is characterised by open and informal dialogue between employees and management. Teamwork plays an important role in many workplaces, and mutual respect is a key term. Manners between colleagues are informal and relaxed, and humour plays an important role in everyday life.

Social life at Danish workplaces

Social life at work is usually concentrated around the lunch break.

Many Danes give high priority to family life, leisure activities and friends and thus go straight home after work. However, many workplaces have a tradition of meeting with colleagues on Fridays after work to have a beer.

The social climax of the year is typically the Christmas lunch in December, and many workplaces also have a party or another social event during summer.

Cooperation at Danish workplaces

Danes are highly group-oriented and it is normal to discuss subjects in order to reach an agreement. It is not common – as it is in the US and the UK - to resolve matters by vote. Rather, people discuss in order to achieve consensus and to see matters from all possible perspectives.

Asking ones colleagues for advice is not seen as a sign of weakness. The ability to cooperate is regarded highly, and people help each other across status and professional categories.

Management culture

Danish workplaces are typically characterized by an absence of the highly hierarchical structure found in many other countries.

The line of command between the manager and the employees is short, and in principle everyone – regardless of education, position or social status – is regarded as equal.

It is thus only natural to find the manager spending the lunchtime with the staff and standing in the same queue in the canteen.

The manager also listens to his or her staff and is willing to take advice because the staff is seen as specialists in their own fields. The high degree of individual responsibility and trust is deeply valued by employees - often higher than, for instance, salary and employment security.

Informal workplaces and business style

At work, many Danish professionals keep an ironic distance to themselves and remain modest in social interaction at the office. You will rarely hear someone promote themselves or their own skills. On the contrary, people tend to underplay their own role and qualifications.

Work discussions are often carried out in a rather direct fashion, but it is possible to have fun together immediately afterwards. Criticism is regarded as something that has to do with one’s work and not as a personal attack.

Compared to other countries, Danish workplaces often have an informal tone among colleagues. Many Danes voice their opinion in many situations, including sharing which political party they vote for or what they think of a certain public figure.

The informal tone is reflected in the daily dress code. Suits are usually not necessary, except for at formal meetings.

Private life 

Most Danes speak to their colleagues with an open heart about their private life.
They talk about their family and what they do in their holidays and spare time. It is also common that work colleagues meet privately.
 
The Danes’ appreciation of their spare time is seen in the fact that many meetings end between the hours of 4 and 5 pm. Long business lunches are also uncommon.
Many Danes prefer to focus on their work tasks while at work in order to go home to their families early. 

Peer Group for foreigners in Denmark

As a member of IDA, you have access to our peer group for foreigners working in Denmark. The peer groups are organised around the country and are a good forum to discuss challenges and concerns with other international professionals who are new to the Danish job market.

Learn about IDA's peer groups