Dos and Don'ts at Work

As a foreigner in Denmark, it can be difficult to understand the local culture. Here is some advice about what to do and not to do at work.

Do's at work

  • Don't wait ​​for an social invitation - be proactive and make contact yourself. The Danes tend to be reserved and might not automatically ask you out for a drink after work.
  • Participate and share your opinions at the many meetings you attend. Welcome to Danish Consensus Culture, where everyone expects to be heard.
  • Trust that the company has hired you because they know you have the right qualifications for the job. Work independently and avoid asking permission for everything. Admit to mistakes if you make any - if you don't, you compromise the trust invested in you.
  • If you're a manager, you need to motivate your staff by providing challenges and professional development. Bonuses and titles are not particularly important to Danish employees.
  • Be informal and direct. Don't soften what you want to say in polite phrases and deference, as this only creates distance between you and the person you are communicating with.


Don'ts at work

  • Don't eat lunch alone in your office. This is considered unfriendly. Join your colleagues where they usually go for lunch.
  • Don't question your colleagues about their religious beliefs or political convictions. Such issues are considered private in Denmark and should only be discussed if your colleagues volunteer them.
  • Avoid working very late if you have a family, particularly if you're a manager. By staying at work rather than spending time with your family, your Danish colleagues will think you are letting your children down.
  • Don't be late - Danes are generally very punctual.
  • Never give orders and always explain why you have asked someone to do something. Danes want to know the reasoning behind the decisions made.

Source: Dennis Nørmark, Anthropologist and Senior Consultant at Living Institute.