The Welfare State At Work

Denmark has been in the news for a while now, most of the time for excellent reasons, such as the Danes being the happiest population on earth, Noma being the number one restaurant all over the world, its welfare state system, and so on. One thing the Danes are really proud of though is their dedication towards work-life balance.


The OECD also voted Denmark as the country with the best work-life balance. Work-life balance is sacred for the Danes, and their government respects this, or maybe it is the other way around. Either way, it exists. It isn’t a myth and it is super important.

The average work-week in Denmark is 37 hours, which leaves plenty of room for other activities. Most Danish people use this time to plan vacations to tropical destinations for the mandatory three weeks they need to take in a year. I am just kidding; they use this time to do chores around the house, spend time with their family, play a lot of sports and indulge in other errands and hobbies (like drinking beer, maybe planning a vacation or two, etc.)

But this doesn’t mean, you won’t get after hours emails from your boss, or that you shouldn’t send them. But most Danes apologise profusely if they call you on a work related matter after hours or during the weekend. They also tend to keep very quiet about it, because if they talked about it, they would be judged and nobody will sit with them at the company lunch table (Yes! The Danes have lunch tables at work). The reason behind this is the sacredness with which the Danes treat their non-work hours, and anyone not following them will, in a typical non-socialist fashion, be ruining the system for everyone else. It is a very mutually beneficial agreement to maintain silence. It doesn’t matter how many or how few hours you work as long as your produce results.

This small attitude is just one of the many ways in which the idea of a welfare society is reflected in the nation. In Denmark, the idea of a welfare state isn’t limited only to the Government doling out generous unemployment and pension benefits, but it is deeply rooted in the everyday Danish routines and mannerisms.

Read part two on Danish work life, for more information on lunch tables and beer in the office.

Image Source: Politiken

Manasa Bollempalli

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