Remote work in Denmark: side by side or far away?

It’s springtime in Denmark and the weather is lovely. What do these office people do in the sun?

Well, listen. The girls have been very efficient and finished work earlier today. Productivity and effectiveness come first. And are rewarded.

So, they could leave the office earlier than usual (looong before 5 pm) and go out for a stroll in the sun. Maybe some coffee involved too.

And the blonde guy to the right? Huh! He didn’t go to work today. He had to go to his son’s school in the morning. And then he stayed home to work from there. No issue.

Later on, he met his colleagues out in the city for a coffee and some good Danish pastry.

Oh! And tomorrow is officially a Remote Work Day, so everyone at the office will stay at home. Or wherever.

Such stories are very common in Denmark. The work culture is pretty flexible. And gives space and time to people to live their lives.

With one condition: work is work and it needs to be done. Period. No excuses.

So, what is really going on with remote work in Denmark? This is becoming a huge trend worldwide now. It has already been established in the land of the Vikings, long ago.

But to what extent is remote work acceptable in Danish businesses? Which edge of the spectrum do bosses and managers in Denmark lean towards?

It is much more complicated than simply saying “I trust you”. So, we’ve teamed up with Kate Dahl, job consultant for internationals in Denmark, to help us with that. Read on to find out more!

Remote or not remote?

In Denmark, more and more people and businesses alike prefer remote work. Sort of.

Danish bosses trust their employees to leave early and work from home, because they have to be at home, perhaps because of a sick child or the absence of someone to take care of it.

They also don’t mind coming late or leaving earlier, if you have to do some important errands or go to the doctor.

They don’t count the hours. Really. No clip card to be validated on the way in and on the way out (how old fashioned!).

And if you tell your manager or boss that you wish to work from home one whole day, it will most probably be fine. They trust you.

You won’t be sleeping or watching Facebook videos all-day, huh? They count on your sense of responsibility.

As our expert, Kate from says “there is enough room for flexibility at work. Given the job is done. And is done well”.

Why is remote work so popular in Denmark then?

People love the flexibility they are given, as this gives them more control of their own life.

The thing is though that businesses are OK with that, too. This is the key.

Most Danish businesses are fine with it, as they do appreciate their employees’ well-being. Kate says “It is definitely more of the culture of trust, flexibility and happiness in the workplace”.

They also do it to promote their own image as a contemporary employer who cares about their employees more. It is trendy and greatly appreciated by new talent.

What about brainstorming? Well, remote work is no issue with that. Even at the office, brainstorming usually takes place on an individual level.

Everyone does their own brainstorming, comes up with ideas and then send them in a report or email. Sometimes, ideas can be presented in a meeting but again messaging and video call apps can do the job.

Plus, remote work sometimes comes at a lower cost. Fewer people in the office = fewer expenses. Bingo! Win-win situation!

Is it compatible with the Danish culture?

Absolutely, yes! Danish culture is about trust. And trust is actually the essence of remote work.

Whether for a day or even more when it is about a fully remote job. Like in another country.

Oops! There is a paradox here. Danes accept and promote work but when it comes to remote workers in another country, things get more complicated.

They are less eager to dare do it than with local employees (i.e. residing in Denmark).

Startups are much more open and especially those in cosmopolitan Copenhagen (or even as far as Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city). Open to the world!

Another Danish paradox

We have written about paradoxes in Denmark, quite a few times already. Like the one about feminism in Denmark or the one about Danish politics.

This time it’s about the paradox of remote work. Everybody loves it. Employees and bosses.

And they know that it can work. There is trust. And there is high Danish productivity to take care of the rest.

But still, there is something missing. Hygge.

You know, Danish culture values togetherness a lot. It is hygge to have your colleagues around from time to time. Have some coffee, do some work together.

While at the same time, independence is also appreciated. You don’t need constant control or follow-ups. You are expected to do the job, ask for help when needed and deliver. No questions asked.

So, is it a Yes or a No about remote work in Denmark?

According to Kate Dahl, it’s a big fat YES. But with an asterisk like “Please come to the office some times. We really need to hygge together”.

IMAGE: Office colleagues chatting in the sun 📌 Gråbrødretorv, Copenhagen (Source: Kim Wyon / VisitDenmark)