Tag Archives: work

Denmark – One Year On

One year ago today I arrived in Denmark. From London, via Hamburg. I arrived exhausted – it was a gruelling trip, what with luggage and train cancellations. However, it signified the start of a new life: a new country and a new job in a new field. I was excited.

Having known Michael for around 4 years, I had, of course, often visited Denmark. During these visits I had encountered a country that looked ‘like in the films’: green rolling hills in spring and summer, golden reddish hues in autumn, and snow! However, most of all, houses had attics – with sloping roofs! You may say – why the excitement? But I come from a country with flat roofs and sloping roofs was what all houses in fairytales had when growing up!

However, I was also apprehensive. I had experienced quite a number of Danes who solely looked inwards towards Denmark and Danes rather than outwards towards the rest of the world. These were people who really believed that everything in Denmark is the best in the world. An attitude, might I add, I had never encountered previously and is the complete opposite to what I expect. This did not sit easy with me – I like to question everything, if only to understand. This is a country where ‘hygge’ and a happy time is important above all else. Coming from a confrontational society, where arguments are relished, I was worried.

So what have I found? I have found a bit of both. Lovely nature that is opposite to the dry and urbanised landscape I grew up with. But also, people with different norms of what is acceptable discourse and what is not, and individuals who struggled with my questions as they were used to having what they say accepted without being challenged in the hope by others of keeping the peace.

Over all, however, I am happy to be here. I appreciate the nature I have around me. I appreciate having the possibilities I have been given in being involved in the community. Above all else, however, I have learnt more about Danish culture and what causes people to act the way they do. This has come in handy in feeling less affronted by what I am told and confronted with, and – why not? – in knowing what buttons to push when I feel its time to give my argumentation skills some exercise!


Working in Denmark

The main reason for our move to Denmark was that I got a job at Danfoss. However, although I had read and heard quite a bit about working culture in Denmark, I hadn’t experienced it myself as yet first hand. So how different is working in the UK, or Malta, to working in Denmark? Here are a couple of impressions I have had so far:

Danfoss entrance

First Day at Work

It was immediately clear to me that the company was ready for my arrival. I had a computer, a phone, a mobile phone and a desk with storage space already set up. An introduction plan had also been prepared for my first weeks with timeslots already planned for meetings with individual colleagues to introduce me to their work. I was also assigned a buddy for practical help and a mentor for technical help, besides the colleague I will work most closely with. I was also greeted with flowers from my manager!

My colleagues were also eager and ready to meet me; a message had been circulated about my joining and with some brief details about me as soon as I signed the contract around a month earlier. This is unlike my experience in the UK where we often only learnt about a new person joining when they turned up on their first day.

Work Day

The work day proceeds quite differently to what I am used to too. In London I worked a 9-5 day, which meant that I was often one of the first (if not the first) to arrive in the office and also to leave. In Denmark? I aim for 8:30-4:30, and am one of the last to arrive and last to leave!

There is also one other big difference in working culture. In the UK (and Malta, though to a lesser extent) I often felt that presenteeism (the tendency to stay at work beyond the time needed for effective performance on the job) was pervasive. Here, employees come to work, do their work, and then leave, giving them the necessary time for a fulfilling personal life. This probably explains why I have not heard anyone grumble or complain in the few days I have been there!

I think this is possible as employees are trusted to see that their work is done. This also means that I have seen much less time-wasting here (if at all!). At the same time activities that bring employees together, such as a Friday roll club (where bread rolls and toppings and brought by a different person each week), or a joint Advent calendar (where everyone gives 2 gifts to the pile and every day in advent someone gets to choose a gift), are accepted with a smile.

Overall Impression

My first impressions of working in Denmark are positive: welcoming colleagues with a successful work-life balance. Of course, I have not had extensive experience of working in either the UK, and more so Denmark, but I look forward to learning more about the Danish working culture over the coming weeks, months and years.