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Working with Norwegians

Romance in Norwegian Workplace

While working in Norway you’re going to want to sleep with Norwegians, and that’s perfectly alright! After all, Norway’s greatest importer of foreigners is not through immigration or job placements, but through love itself. And there is no shortage of ridiculously good-looking people to fall in love with here, even if that’s just for one night.

If you are however lucky enough to sleep with a Norwegian, or two, or twelve during your business adventures, there’s a few social norms to understand. The first is that casual sex is fairly prevalent both in Norway and throughout the Nordics. So slow down there, tiger, and try to avoid falling too head over heels in love after just a single hot night under the sheets. There’s a high likelihood that the experience, as passionate as it might have been, is taken less seriously by your Norwegian partner. In the case of sleeping with coworkers and then sitting across from them at the meeting room table the next day at work don’t be too surprised if their demeanor has switched right back to work mode. That may have been a one-time performance. Unless of course, you get lucky again at next year’s Julebord when you’re both enjoying yourself a little too much. Still, when the moment has passed don’t be too surprised if it’s never mentioned again.

 

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Typical Norwegian Workday

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Typical Norwegian Workday

[/tm_pb_text][tm_pb_text admin_label=”Text” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] After spending enough time in Norway you might start to feel like time moves just a little slower here. Everyone and everything from planes to trains is on time, almost exactly on time in fact. Work is always delivered on time or as agreed upon. To not follow through on your word can cause you to lose trust in Norway. However, everything else just seems to take a little bit longer. The pace is noticeably subdued, and that’s exactly how Norwegians like it. To rush something or haphazardly finish work is not the norm. To take an unnecessary shortcut to speed things up doesn’t really happen here. Things get done when they get done. This doesn’t help much when trying to do business deals with Norwegians. I soon learned how to operate on a whole new time scale: Norwegian time. [/tm_pb_text][tm_pb_text admin_label=”Text” global_module=”1231″ text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” saved_tabs=”all”]


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Working with Norwegians

What is The Law of Jante (Janteloven)?

One of my most jarring experiences doing business in Norway was when I first encountered the Law of Jante, or Janteloven. While discussing why a Norwegian business was not excelling, a colleague of mine simply shrugged their shoulders and proclaimed “Well, you know, Law of Jante”. Jante?

What was Jante?

He sat me down for an hour and laid out a cultural anomaly that colored how almost every Norwegian (and more broadly Scandinavians) operate, both in business and in life. The Law of Jante is a social concept created by Danish / Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 book A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks. You may be familiar with a similar concept used in other parts of the world called “Tall Poppy Syndrome”.

In Janteloven, individual success is discouraged and, in many cases, considered inappropriate. Instead society encourages the good of the collective over any one individual. This has shaped Scandinavian culture over many years and helped to create the peaceful, modest, and homogenous society of today.

The Law of Jante

You’re not to think you are anything special.

You’re not to think you are as good as we are.

You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.

You’re not to imagine yourself better than we are.

You’re not to think you know more than we do.

You’re not to think you are more important than we are.

You’re not to think you are good at anything.

You’re not to laugh at us.

You’re not to think anyone cares about you.

You’re not to think you can teach us anything.


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Morning at the Norwegian Office

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Morning at the Norwegian Office

 

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The modern Norwegian corporate office is a thing of beauty. Imagine a vista of sensible floor plans along with that slick Scandinavian furniture in a workplace that is as efficient as the Norwegians that occupy it. Open spaces, calm colors, exposed wood and great coffee machines with touch screens make them a worker’s paradise.

Like many things in Norway, much thought is put into the office design and overall experience. You won’t find many dark, lifeless offices like you find throughout the world. Instead you’ll find big open windows with amazing views. Even when the Norwegian worker is at the office it’s important their precious nature is still within reach or at least within view.

You won’t find many mazes of endless cubicles nor will you find many private offices. This isn’t America where one’s office sends a clear signal of your status in the company. The American executive often dreams of obtaining the coveted corner office as the ultimate symbol of status. Sometimes this even goes as far as putting the executive’s office on a higher floor and overlooking the rank-and-file, lower-level employees. That is of course so they can easily survey their domain and loyal subjects. It also creates a very clear distinction of where one sits in the multi layered hierarchy of the American office place. This is less important in the flat hierarchy of Norwegian companies where they go to great lengths to avoid such perceptions of inequality.

In addition to this equality there’s a calm and peace found inside the Norwegian office. However, if you ever want to cause pandemonium within these walls I recommend this one simple trick: go around and ask every single person “How are you doing!?” when you arrive in the morning. This type of pleasantry might be common in other work cultures but not so much in Norway. Instead it’s more common for workers to arrive at their desk and not speak to a single soul. Norwegians are also notoriously awful making small talk as well. So if you ask how they are doing, they might even take you seriously and start telling you about all sorts of random personal issues!

 

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Are Norwegians Lazy?

For many Norwegians work-life balance is incredibly important.

With a heavier emphasis on the life balance part.

The ideal Norwegian maintains a delicate balance in his or her life, optimizing both for efficiency but also optimal relaxation time. This is best described as working to live, and not living to work. So greater joy is taken in say getting to the ski slopes, or just enjoying a quiet evening at homes with some candles lit than say working extra hours to advance in the workplace. 

This sometimes causes Norwegians to be perceived as lazy, which is not entirely accurate. You don’t often meet many lazy cultures who enjoy 4-hour mountain hikes and many other types of physical punishment such as cross country skiing.

In truth, the modern Norwegian is actually highly efficient in the workplace. That makes it easier for them to put the work aside at the end of the day and get back to enjoying life. They also take great pride in their work so even if it takes longer to accomplish that perfectly alright.

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