Workplace Culture

Once the contractual issues have been sorted, you still need to acquaint yourself with the many aspects that are not written in the contract.

The company often has a number of policis – smoking policy, alcohol policy and other rules regulating staff interaction – that are stated in an employee booklet, on the company intranet or taht are just tacitly implied. These “unwritten rules” are important, so study them and inquire whenever there is something that you do not understand.

It is always a good idea to find someone who knows the culture and the unwritten rules from the inside and ask them if you are in about as to what is expected of you in different situation, be they social or professional, as well as how your behaviour in various contexts is interpreted.

Flat hierarchy

Danish workplaces typically have a very flat hierarchy. This means that everyone regardless of status within the hierarchy is perceived as equal. They may not actually be, but that is the general perception.

In practice that means that communication across hierarchical levels is quite normal. If you are employed as a student assistant, you may adress both managers and co-workers for advice or in order to present relevant ideas and initiatives. It is the employers’ or manager’s right to manage and distribute the work assignments, butin a Danish setting that does not mean that staff should merely obey orders. Challenging decisions if they seem irrational shows that you think independently. As opposed to in many other culture a DAnish manager will typically value such a move rather than interpret it as discrediting manager status.

Expectations

Usually, a Danish manager will delegate a task without many details. It is up to the employees to demonstrate the initiative and independent thought that are sufficient to complete the task. Generally speaking the manager will not check whether everything is going as planned. He or she will expect the employee to approach them with any doubts, questions or needs for coaching to solve the problem. The same is the case if a deadline is too tight.

Danes are very punctual, so it is expected that deadlines are met. However, deadlines can be negotiable.

Moreover, a Danish manager expects staff members to seize the initiative and take on assignments that they find essential in order to move on rather than waiting for the manager to order the job done. But of course it is also expected that you meet your deadline – in consideration of your manager and your co-workers. If you are unable to meet a deadline you are expected to bring it up with management.

How to work efficiently with the Danes

Check out this webinar to get more information on how you work most efficiently with your Danish co-workers.

Get to know your co-workers

Danish workplaces often host a number of social events. It could be communal breakfasts on Fridays, weekly cake dys, outings, clubs, Christmas dinners, etc. It is a good idea to participate in these events to get to know your co-workers and create a network in the workplace. Expect that everyone talks to everyone regardless of hierarchical status. The tone is more informatl, but you can still talk about work. These events provide a great opportunity to get Danish workplace culture under your skin. This is also where you may make new friends and build the trust in co-workers and managers that is common in Danish workplaces.