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.

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.

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.

Management culture

Danish workplaces are characterized by an absence of the highly hierarchical structure found in many other countries. The line of command between the boss 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 boss spending the lunchtime with the staff and standing in the same queue in the canteen.

The boss also listens to his or her staff and is willing to take advice because the staff is seen as specialists in their own fields. This is reasonable as much responsibility and influence is given to the employees which is highly valued – higher than, e.g., salary and employment security.

Business style

It is common to keep an ironic distance to oneself, and modesty is a keyword in social interaction. You will rarely hear someone promote themselves or their own skills. On the contrary, people tend to underplay their own role and qualifications.

Work is often commented 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. Danes generally voice their opinion in many situations, including statements about which 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.

Cooperation 

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.
 

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. The Danes work intensely while at work in order to go home to their families early.