Workplace culture in Denmark
Understand Danish workplace culture and have a good start to your work life in Denmark
The hierarchy can be more flat and invisible than you are used to so far, and therefore hard for you to observe in the office layout for instance. Your new manager might not have his/her own office but is situated among all your other colleagues. Everyone knows who is in charge, it is just not 'shown' by a separate manager’s office. This means that there is an implied hierarchy, and decision lines are not always obvious. Therefore, it is important for you to ask and find out who the immediate manager is as well as the general layout of the hierarchy in the company.
Working in a team
The Danish way of working is very often in a team function, and everybody is expected to pitch in with ideas and opinions. Assignments are developed in collaboration with your colleagues, and you are free to contribute with your own ideas and opinions. However, you are expected to carry out your own individual tasks, and you have the responsibility to deliver the assignments on time.
Flexible Working Hours
In Denmark, a standard workweek consists of 37 hours of work, usually carried out from Monday to Friday.
Punctuality is important in Denmark. This means that it is more important that you meet your deadlines and show up on time to meetings than when or where you carry out your work. Employees at a Danish workplace are expected to show a high degree of independence, for instance in planning the tasks at hand.
In some workplaces, this high degree of independence also includes managing your own working hours. Meaning that the employer trusts you to plan your working hours for the benefit of both the company as well as your work-life balance. The main purpose of this is for you to be able to enjoy a life outside work.
Responsibility of completing a task is often shared when working in a team. Even if someone else takes the lead on an assignment, the other team members still have an obligation to help the team succeed in completing the assignment.
The responsibility is both for you as an individual and for you as a part of a team. Once you have accepted an assignment, you are expected to keep your manager updated if you do not have the resources to complete the assignment. It is important to show initiative when you stumble upon problems in your work life. Do not leave other people to take care of it.
You can show initiative in a specific assignment where you solve a problem that you come across in your work process, but you can also show initiative by acting on a small practical matter. If for instance the printer is low on ink, replace the ink cartridge instead of waiting for others to take care of it.
Informal Tone of Communications
Generally, the Danish workplace culture is characterised by being quite informal. There is no dress code and people talk informally to each other. When introducing yourself, you can use your full name if you like. After the first introduction, it is standard for everyone to use your first name, as well as for you to use their first names. Yes, also the person in charge.
Also, your title and status are not overly important in your everyday work life. In fact, it is common to be humble about your status. Your colleagues will ask if they want to know more about your academic background.
We recommend that you take our e-learning course "Introduction to Danish Working Culture" to get a deeper understanding of Danish workplace culture and to find out how you deal with situations that may be unfamiliar to you.