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First Day at Work

Kay Xander Mellish is an American who has worked for several large Danish companies and has collected her insights on working culture in Denmark into books, podcasts, and lectures. Here are a few of her tips on Danish working culture.

Make sure to be right on time or slightly early for your first day at work; in Denmark, being on time is a sign of trustworthiness. Male or female, you are likely to find an attractive bouquet of flowers on your desk welcoming you to your new financial services employer. These flowers can be taken home with you at the end of the day.

One of your colleagues will probably be assigned to be your mentor and show you around. He or she will show you where to sit (or stand – many financial industry offices include flexible sitting-standing desks) and help set you up with the necessary computer passwords and entry cards.

You'll also have the chance to meet many of your new colleagues – so many you will have a hard time remembering their names. The most important thing to remember is to look each person in the eye and smile, shake their hand, and say your name, perhaps adding something about how you're looking forward to working together.

Danish society believes strongly in egalitarianism, so you should great the top boss with precisely the same enthusiasm you use to greet the cleaning lady. Remember also to treat the administrative staff with great respect. If you come from a country with a large number of people or high unemployment, you may be used to an environment with many administrative people.; Denmark is a high-wage country with very few. The administrators will mostly be teaching you how to do your own administrative tasks (like booking expenses or ordering equipment) using online tools.

At lunchtime, sit together with your closest colleagues and discuss the events of the day. Danish lunches are usually only 30 minutes long, after which everyone goes back to work. If you have special dietary needs, tell your mentor or administrator, and they will generally be happy to accommodate you. Alternately, you can bring your lunch from home, but you should still eat it together with your colleagues.