Denmark: Cultural Advice
by Going Global
Punctuality is important in Denmark. The Danes work hard during business hours so they can go home early to their families. They also care about details, so it’s important to give detailed information during business negotiations.
Punctuality is a must for all occasions; it is considered extremely rude to be late. The Danes’ appreciation of their spare time is seen in the fact that many meetings end between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. Long business lunches are also uncommon. The Danes work intensely while on the job in order to go home to their families early. Further, summer is considered a time for leisure. One should not attempt to conduct major business during July and August when many companies close for extended periods to allow employees to take summer vacations. Danes have five weeks of paid vacation per year.
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Men do not open doors for women or stand when a woman enters or leaves a room, due to the strong equal rights culture. They do, however, allow a woman to enter a room first or to be seated first. Generally, when ascending stairs, men precede women; when descending stairs, women go first.
By European standards, the 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.
The Danish are sticklers for detail, and it is very important to give detailed information in all business negotiations. For the 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 presentation 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.