Excerpted from the Denmark Career Guide
Danish society as a whole is egalitarian and informal. The democratic system encourages every person to present his or her point of view in a frank manner.
Breakfast in Denmark consists of rye bread, jam, muesli cereal and coffee or tea. Junket crumble, ymerdrys, is a Danish specialty made of crumbled rye bread mixed with brown sugar. On Sunday mornings, many Danes eat breakfast rolls or wienerbrød, a custard-filled pastry.
Almost 2 million people in Denmark, out of a population of 5.6 million, are members of a sports association or club, and nearly two-thirds of children and young people play sports Football (soccer) and handball are the most popular sports. Danes also are crazy about bicycles and nine out of ten Danes own a bicycle, which are used as an everyday means of transport.
Punctuality is a must for all occasions; it is considered extremely rude to be late. Danes’ appreciation of their spare time is seen in the fact that many meetings end between 4 and 5 pm. Long business lunches are uncommon.
In general, Danes are low-key, subdued and inexpressive people in public. They are strongly egalitarian, with a need to seek consensus and attribute status according to competence rather than class or education.
Danish, a North Germanic language, is the official language of Denmark and one of the official languages of the European Union. German is an official language in the area bordering Germany.
If You Want to Act Like a Local...
Because of Denmark’s strong culture of gender equality, men do not open doors for women or stand up when a woman enters or leaves a room. Men will, however, allow a woman to enter a room first or be seated first. Generally, when ascending stairs, men precede women; when descending stairs, women go first.
Although participation in social events at work is voluntary, you are expected to participate. Many companies have breakfast to celebrate a colleague's birthday before the day begins, for example.
Because of the Danish preference for keeping personal and professional lives separate, it is not common to go out to the pub to socialize with colleagues after work, except on special occassions.
In the flexible work schedule business culture, it is not unusual for the office to be mostly empty by 4 pm.
By European standards, Danish labor market agreements create a highly flexible work environment, especially in regard to working hours, overtime and the hiring/firing of personnel. This also means mobility is high in the Danish labor market. In return for their high level of flexibility, Danish employees are guaranteed relatively comprehensive social security in times of unemployment, illness or occupational injury. Social security is guaranteed by law. The same applies to foreign labor. The law ensures foreign employees are given the same rights as Danes in the labor market.
Danish business structures tend to be very flat, consistent with their egalitarian approach to life and the need to seek consensus. Managers do not play the traditional paternalistic or autocratic role, but rather seek to be treated and seen as ‘one of the group.’ A good manager will encourage, delegate and communicate clearly and unambiguously to his or her subordinates. He/ or she must be competent and diligent. Personal relations are of secondary importance.
Danes are sticklers for detail, and it is very important to give detailed information in all business negotiations. For Danes, objective facts are the best form of evidence, and subjective feelings do not play a role in negotiating. Danes are resistant to the ‘hard-sell;' negotiators are expected to make their presentations and supply any requested follow-up data, then wait. Danes tend to be slow to decide, so patience is required. Decisions are normally made after consulting everyone involved.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Denmark Guide.