I have been working in Denmark for just over 2 months (which included 10 days off for Christmas). During this time I have been busy learning my job, but also observing how things work within the department. I have also given myself time to think about the differences I am observing, if only to be able to keep them in mind when interacting in this new environment. So what have I been noticing? These are a few of my first impressions.
Attitude to learning
First of all I am impressed with the attitude toward learning I have observed. At work I have been given a mentor – a retired colleague who comes in every week to talk to me about the tasks I have, introduce me to the relevant people and help bring me up to speed with the technical issues. I am given the time to learn new things and apply my knowledge at a slower pace than a more experience colleague would at this point in time. This surprised me a lot as it is completely the opposite of what I was always told working in a company would be like – and my previous experience as well.
I think the reason for this attitude is based in the vision of the manager. I feel that management see the employees as a valuable resource, and only by having them trained to the required standards can we deliver to the best of our abilities, thus serving our function within the company.
I was told this before I moved to Denmark, and I have really seen it work. The working environment is very much built on trust. Everyone is trusted to do the tasks they are working on within the time frame and to the level expected. No one checks that you work the hours you are expected – my contract also specifies hours a year I should work rather than per week, making working hours more flexible.
It’s the same situation with tasks: once I ask you to do something I trust you to do it, and do it right, and I will find the results in the required place. So far the system seems to work, though it has been a mind-shift going from a manager who expected to know everything about where I was to one who looks blankly at me if I start talking about my current tasks just for the sake of informing her!
Respect for each others’ abilities
I think that trust is a result of the respect everyone has for others’ abilities irrespective of whether one is the a consultant or a technician, a manager or an administrator. Because of this everyone feels proud of the job they are doing, and do their best to do it well. It has been a blessing not to have to decipher the social pecking order in a work place this time round.
Work-life balance is something that Danes pride themselves on. I really see the difference here. In London and elsewhere people often lived to work. Here, the balance is really shifted the other way: people get their job done and leave. Socialising with colleagues is not really a thing done here and staying around at work once your hours/work is over is definitely not something I have seen being done. It’s refreshing, and great, though, I am still to be convinced that shifting so far onto the other side can only be a good thing.