Does Denmark have the best working conditions?
Writing articles for LinkedIn inspired to talk about work here.
You have probably heard of the Danish (or Scandinavian) work environment, with short work days and a very flat hierarchy.
Danes do not need nannies to pick up the children as they can do it themselves, leaving work usually between 3 and 4 pm (even earlier on Fridays because nobody is motivated on Friday afternoons anyway). To people working late hours in for example France or Germany, this must sound like a dream. I myself could not believe it when I first got a part-time job and realised that absolutely everyone was gone at 4pm (and I had to close the office).
Danes don’t need to put their children in summer camps either, as the common scheme is to have 6 weeks of paid holiday every year (in France it’s 5 weeks) and because school children only have 5 weeks of summer holiday. In comparison, French children have 2 to 3 months of summer holidays, plus 2 weeks every 6 weeks during the year.
But then how can Denmark be productive, when workers spend only a third of their day at work, you ask? In my opinion – and here I’m only talking about my own limited experience in small companies -, the two key factors are: PRODUCTIVITY and TRUST.
Productivity: Danes have short, or should I say compressed working days (as the norm is still 37 hours a week, which is more than France’s 35), but when they work, they work. Lunch breaks are quite short (20 to 30 min) and coffee breaks as well. I have never seen a common coffee break amongst colleagues, everyone normally just goes alone to the kitchen or coffee machine, and comes back to drink it at their desk. Meeting are kept short and to the point. Everyone has their e-mail opened at all times (which according to some, actually hinders productivity), and responds quickly
Trust: In most Danish companies, employees are trusted to work independently from very early on, even student employees. Actually working from home from time to time or on a regular basis is generally accepted for people who only need a computer to work. This allows for a greater flexibility in both working hours and location. For example, it’s not frowned upon to schedule a dentist or hairdresser’s appointment in the middle of your work day. Danes just leave the office for that, and come back whenever they’re done (or continue their working day at home). Bosses trust that the work will still be done at some point.
What I described here applies to small companies, as I have never worked for a larger organization (please share your experience in the comment section if you have). That being said, small and medium companies represent over 75% of Denmark’s work environement (stats from 2015). Denmark is often mentioned as the country with “one of the simplest and quickest start-up procedures in the world” (source: TransferWise). Although recent laws have made it a tad more expensive (it used to cost 1 krone to set up a company!), it is still pretty simple.
So why not start your own business in Denmark? 😉