Working in Denmark How is it to work with Danes? Is it really that great to work in Denmark? And what do you have to be prepared for? Once again Kathryn from the U.S., Senthil from India and Rob from the Netherlands tell their personal experiences, now on work life in Denmark.
What is a typical day for you in Denmark?
that now. I almost do that every single day, which is like ‘wow that's great’.
Senthil: As we still have a small kid, we wake up quite early. Also, we live in North of Copenhagen and the school is in Carlsberg, so we have a long commute and are therefore up quite early. Then to work at 7.30-8am, and then go back in the evening to pick him up early as well, so I normally leave around 3.303.45. Afterwards, I go back and help my wife with some cooking and buying groceries and so on. After dinner we put the kid to bed early, and then I start doing some of the remaining work of the day, and then go to bed. Typical work day in Denmark.
“With all my free time now, I have been learning to play video games…” Rob: I actually get off really early as well. So, I just get up at 6 o'clock in the morning and I am actually at work before quarter to seven I believe. The two first hours of the day you can actually do so much more things than the rest of the day. The second thing is that you can actually go home quarter past two in the afternoon if you are done with your stuff. This is really nice during the summer because you can just lie in the park and actually do nothing. It is even better during the winter because at least you got one part of the day where you can actually still go home when it's light.
“… I worked in Singapore for six years, and I don't think I ever got home before 5.30pm, and I do that now. I almost do that every single day”
Kathryn: I've only been employed full-time since February, because I graduated in January and then I had to wait for my permit to come through, so I've been adjusting to my new schedule now. I am marathon training and I don't like to run after work. So I am up at 4.30am. I usually get to the office around 7.40 or 7.45, have my regular workday, leave around 3.30 and get home around 4. With all my free time now, I have been learning to play video games. I don't have kids, so the rest of the day is just me time.
Would it be different if you were in your home country? Senthil: I think the primary difference comes probably from April to October - that's where you want to have these couple of hours for yourself in the evening, where you like to go for a run or go to the park or do what you want to do. That is primarily what I find quite interesting: I worked in India for five years and I worked in Singapore for six years, and I don't think I ever got home before 5.30pm, and I do
How is it to work in Denmark?
was putting a lot of pressure on my family, so we took a conscious decision on moving out of Singapore. We listed Denmark and Norway to be the places that we wanted to move to, so we kind of targeted moving to Denmark.
Senthil: You are given a lot of freedom to be honest, I mean there are very few people managing your work – they believe that when somebody gives you something, they expect you to finish or at least go back to them if it's not possible for some reasons. So they give you a lot of freedom and they also value your private life, that's for sure. We have pretty much vacation, so I always get to enjoy myself from time to time and have decent breaks. We also have flex hours, so I really don't know what my typical office hours are. I think my contract says from 8am-4pm, but I don't think I ever stick to that. Probably in the first week, but after that I don't think I've ever stuck to that 8-4 because we have really flexible hours and can work from home if you really have things to do at home.
“Danes are really oriented towards teamwork.” How is the relation to your managers? Senthil: It is pretty good, I mean very professional. My manager is a Dane. He gives me a lot of freedom. He also gives me a lot of opportunities to try myself, and he will never say no to anything – so far, he has never said no. He is definitely focused on my own career development.
Rob: I like the flexibility.
What are your experiences in working with Danes?
“So, they give you a lot of freedom and they also value your private life, that's for sure.”
Kathryn: I would say really positive. Danes are really oriented towards teamwork. Especially at my office, my boss is really fantastic, and she sits down with all of us and is up to date with what we are all doing. She works with us, it is almost flat hierarchy – I mean she is our boss, but this team feeling. I think the US is way more competitive, because we have these performance reviews
What is the biggest difference from working in your home country? Senthil: The freedom, for sure. And the number of hours that we work. At some workplaces in Singapore it is up to 44 hours – my contract in Singapore said 40 hours, but I was consistently working much more than contractual hours, typically five days a week. That's also at some point where I felt that I
In Denmark it is kind of all about the common goal. Everyone is trying to help out each other…” 3
that are very focused on your individual performance.
company in Singapore, but I came here to get to know the colleagues in Denmark. I recognized that on Friday’s, people were leaving just after lunch – it's just 4,5 days work. However, at Ørsted, not many are leaving before 2.30pm unless they have some private things to do, but I don't think we are quite strict with timings.
“Danes are pretty open and sometimes really direct. This can also be a cultural shock for some guys”
Photo by Anders Lorentzen. Kathryn’s seaweed installation.
Apart from that, working with Danes – I mean Danes are pretty open and sometimes really direct. This can also be a cultural shock for some guys that are not aware of it. Also, quite friendly of course, they will definitely try to help you a lot if you go and approach them. You need to tell them that you need help, otherwise they will just sit back and do what they normally do. They will not be the first ones to come directly and show that they want to help, but if you go and ask, they will be helping you. So, I feel that they are quite open, direct and honest.
In some cases, if you were spending extra time helping your colleagues, that actually detracts your individual performance and that can come down hard on you if you are missing your targets. In Denmark, at least what I've experienced, it is kind of all about the common goal. Everyone is trying to help each other out, and that's been really nice. The competition is a little bit more subdued here, I would say, not to say it doesn't happen, but it's a little calmer – it's nice.
Senthil: The first time I came to Denmark was in 2011. I was working for a Danish
To be continued… Thank you, Kathryn, Senthil and Rob!