Understanding the Danish workplace culture is one of the key issues you need to be aware of when you apply for a job, prepare for an interview or start your career in Denmark. Here there is an introduction to what working in a Danish organization is about.
Independence is the key
In a Danish workplace it is expected that you take initiatives and work independently. The working culture is very open and your boss is not always checking on you what you are doing or giving you tasks. You are expected to figure things out for yourself and work independently on tasks. Of course you will always receive sparring from your colleagues and from your boss, but you will always have your own responsibilities and autonomy at the workplace.
Most Danish companies have a flat structure where there is short distance between managers and workers. Everyone has the opportunity to share their opinions and offer suggestions. However, your boss still makes all the final decisions but his door is open to all employees at any time.
Danes are on first name basis with all their colleagues and even their superiors. As a student worker or intern, you are also expected to use people’s first names, just as others will refer to you by your first name. Titles are rarely used.
Even though the majority of Danes are fluent in English, and many organizations have English as a corporate language, the lunch breaks and small talk within the company are always in Danish. You may feel isolated if your colleagues are talking Danish and forgetting to switch to English. Sometimes they might forget that you are there and you need to remind them. Learning Danish and being able to understand the basic conversations is very important in order for you to feel more integrated in the workplace. Moreover, by learning and talking Danish you show interest and appreciation for the Danish culture.
Social activities in the workplace
Danish people are often involved in social activities at work. Most companies have a set calendar of social events to which everyone is invited. Such events might be:Christmas parties, summer outings, cake on Fridays, etc. and almost everyone participates in these events.
As much as Danes prioritize and appreciate social activities at work, they tend to keep their work life and their own social life separate. In many workplaces, it’s not so common to be close friends with colleagues and to socialize with them outside working hours. Danes tend to leave work and go home to spend time with family and friends.
Here is a list of things you should remember for your first working day in a Danish company: