Two years ago I moved to Denmark to study at the University of Copenhagen. Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark and is a small, beautiful city by the sea. The Danish people love playing sports and drinking beer, and firmly believe in the live and let live philosophy. I have also been working in Denmark, and I have not stopped being surprised by how Nordic life is filled with a relaxed culture, which reflects significantly in their work life.
Number one: almost everyone bikes to work, even the prime minister (thumbs up for the environment and leadership).
Number two: a workweek is 37 hours, and your boss will actually think something is wrong with you if you want to work more. No, seriously.
Number three: extra working hours are compensated financially, with time off, or often with both. This being the cheerful side of the situation, being a social welfare state, the more you earn, the more you pay in taxes, with tax rates of up to70%. These taxes are in turn distributed by the Government towards public welfare, such as stipends for students, support for single mothers, paternity leave for fathers, to name a few.
In 2011, the OECD named Denmark the best country in the world for work-life balance. In 2013, the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden ranked in the top 7 amongst advanced nations for having the best work-life balance. 89% of Danes reported that they have more positive experiences in an average day than negative ones. Only 2% of employees work very long hours, which is much lower than the OECD average of 9%.
A deep awareness of the benefits of slow albeit sustainable development has helped this country of a mere five million with minimum natural resources to flourish. On a lighter tone, the Nordic people are also known for their looks; With features that are markedly different from most western nations, the Nordic countries have one of the lowest obesity rates and a population that seems to consist entirely of tall, athletic and gorgeous people. Their food is ridiculously healthy, with lots of roots, berries, nuts, whole grains and crudités (raw vegetables).
If you’re looking for some Danish inspiration, below you can explore a few of the notable Danes behind all this health, thoughtfulness, and prosperity.