Work Culture in Norway Working With Norwegians

Working in Norway: Embracing Unique Work Culture and Traditions

Norway, known for its stunning fjords and quality of life, has long been an attractive destination for expats seeking new professional opportunities. In this article, we will explore what it’s like to work in Norway and delve into the unique aspects of Norwegian work culture.

Norwegian Work Culture: Flat Hierarchies and Trust

One of the defining aspects of Norwegian work culture is its flat hierarchies. This structure promotes open communication, collaboration, and a strong sense of trust among colleagues. The Law of Jante (Janteloven) influences this egalitarian approach, encouraging modesty and discouraging individual boasting.

Understanding and navigating this work culture is essential for a smooth professional experience in Norway. Check out the guide on how to work with Norwegians to get started.

Work-Life Balance: Embracing Downtime and Nature

Norwegians are known for their strong work-life balance, with flexible hours and a focus on spending time with family and friends. A notable aspect of Norwegian downtime is the concept of “Søndagsro” or Sunday quietness, which entails spending Sundays relaxing and unwinding.

Another essential element of Norwegian leisure time is the appreciation for nature. The tradition of hyttekos involves retreating to a cozy cabin in nature to relax, socialize, and enjoy outdoor activities.

Socializing in the Workplace: Building Relationships

While Norwegian colleagues may seem reserved initially, fostering connections outside of work is essential for building strong professional relationships. Social events, such as forspiel (pre-party) and nachspiel (afterparty), provide opportunities to bond with colleagues and deepen connections.

Another unique aspect of Norwegian social culture is dugnad, a community-driven spirit where people come together to complete tasks for the common good. Participating in dugnad events can help you become more integrated into the Norwegian community and work environment.

Communication and Language: Understanding Nuances

While English is widely spoken in Norway, learning Norwegian is helpful for fully integrating into the work environment. Explore how to flirt in Norwegian and learn what Norwegians say before drinking to better understand Norwegian social customs.

Additionally, be mindful of communication nuances. For example, Norwegians may not respond well to compliments, as it could be perceived as bragging or insincere. Instead, focus on establishing trust and showing respect through actions and sincerity.

Work Culture in Norway Working With Norwegians

What is Norwegian work culture?

Norwegian work culture is characterized by a strong focus on work-life balance, egalitarianism, and teamwork. Here is a guide to Norwegian work culture.

Work-Life Balance

Norwegian work culture places a high value on work-life balance. Employees in Norway typically work 37.5 hours per week, with five weeks of paid vacation per year. Many companies also offer flexible work hours and the option to work from home. Additionally, parental leave is generous, with mothers and fathers entitled to up to 49 weeks of paid parental leave.


Egalitarianism is an important part of Norwegian work culture. The workplace is often seen as a team effort, with everyone working together towards a common goal. Employees are encouraged to speak up and share their ideas, regardless of their position in the company. This flat organizational structure promotes a sense of equality and collaboration.


Teamwork is highly valued in Norwegian work culture. Employees are encouraged to work together and help each other out, with a focus on achieving shared goals. In addition, decision-making is often done collaboratively, with input from all members of the team. This fosters a sense of community and camaraderie in the workplace.


Communication is important in Norwegian work culture, with a focus on direct and open communication. Employees are encouraged to express their opinions and ideas, and managers are expected to listen and respond in a respectful manner. Additionally, non-verbal communication such as body language and eye contact is also important in Norwegian work culture, as it helps to build trust and establish rapport.

Work Ethic

Norwegian work culture places a high value on quality work and productivity. Employees are expected to work efficiently and effectively, with a focus on achieving results. However, there is also an emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, with the understanding that productivity is not the only measure of success.

Work Attire

Norwegian work culture tends to be more casual than in many other countries. While formal business attire is still common in some industries, many workplaces allow for more casual dress. It is important to take cues from your colleagues and dress appropriately for your workplace.


Socializing outside of work is an important part of Norwegian work culture. This often takes the form of informal gatherings, such as after-work drinks or team-building activities. Building relationships and trust with colleagues is seen as an important part of creating a productive and positive work environment.


Norwegian work culture is characterized by a focus on work-life balance, egalitarianism, teamwork, direct communication, and productivity. Employees are encouraged to work collaboratively and to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Dress is often casual, and socializing outside of work is an important part of building relationships and fostering a positive work environment. By understanding and embracing Norwegian work culture, employees can thrive in the workplace and contribute to the success of their organization.

Work Culture in Norway Working With Norwegians

What is it like to work with Norwegians?

Working with Norwegians can be a unique and rewarding experience. Norwegians are known for their work ethic, professionalism, and commitment to collaboration and teamwork. Here are some things to expect when working with Norwegians.

Communication Style

Norwegians are known for their direct communication style. They value honesty and transparency and are not afraid to speak their minds. This can sometimes be interpreted as blunt or even rude, especially by those from cultures where indirect communication is more common.

It is important to be direct and clear in your communication with Norwegians. They appreciate honesty and directness, and it is important to avoid beating around the bush or using too much small talk.


Norwegians take their work very seriously and value professionalism in the workplace. They are known for their punctuality, reliability, and commitment to high-quality work. Norwegians are typically well-organized and methodical in their approach to work, and they value efficiency and productivity.

It is important to maintain a high level of professionalism when working with Norwegians. This includes being punctual, meeting deadlines, and being well-prepared for meetings and presentations.


Norwegians place a strong emphasis on teamwork and collaboration in the workplace. They value open communication, sharing ideas, and working together to achieve common goals. In Norwegian workplaces, it is common for decisions to be made by consensus rather than by one person in a position of authority.

It is important to be a team player when working with Norwegians. This includes being open to feedback, contributing to group discussions, and being willing to compromise and work together to find solutions.

Work-Life Balance

Norwegians place a strong emphasis on work-life balance and believe that a healthy balance between work and leisure is important for overall wellbeing. They typically work 37.5 hours per week, with a strong emphasis on using vacation time to travel and spend time with family and friends.

It is important to respect Norwegians’ commitment to work-life balance. This includes avoiding unnecessary overtime or expecting them to work on weekends or holidays.

Culture and Social Norms

Norwegian culture and social norms may differ from those in other countries. Norwegians value equality, honesty, and respect for others, and they are generally very open-minded and tolerant.

It is important to be aware of cultural differences when working with Norwegians. This includes avoiding discussing personal finances or income, respecting personal space, and being aware of Norwegian holidays and customs.


Working with Norwegians can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Norwegians value professionalism, collaboration, and work-life balance, and they are known for their direct communication style and commitment to equality and respect. By being aware of cultural differences and maintaining a high level of professionalism and teamwork, you can work effectively with Norwegians and enjoy a successful career in Norway.

Work Culture in Norway Working With Norwegians

How many hours do Norwegians work?

On a national average Norwegians work about 37 hours per week. Although the total hours worked can be less in a corporate office. This is because many Norwegian organizations offer ‘flexible hours’ and there is great autonomy in managing your own hours.

Unlike in many other cultures in Norway, corporate foot soldiers don’t often brag about working more hours than their peers. This can actually be construed as being inefficient or bragging unnecessarily about your contribution at work. Or worse, clashing with Janteloven (the Law of Jante), a social construct where individual success is discouraged and, in many cases, considered inappropriate.

Work Culture in Norway Working With Norwegians

Meeting Room Culture in Norway

In many other business cultures the meeting room is often more like a battlefield.

It’s where ideas are pushed forward, allies are formed, and confrontation is inevitable.

That’s not how meeting room culture works in Norway.

Meeting Room Culture in Norway - Working with Norwegians

The Norwegian meeting room is a peaceful place, a calm room where grandstanding and chest-pounding is greatly discouraged. 

Even aggressive hand motions are not recommended here!

This was tough for an American. I, am after, all more used to unfurling my feathers, much like a peacock, across the conference room table to make my point. 

However, in Norway, you don’t see much peacocking in the meeting room. The scene is more similar to a flock of extremely polite songbirds chirping in agreement. You can perhaps thank Janteloven (the Law of Jante) for this.

Conversations are structured and well balanced between the participants, with no single participant getting a larger share of the agenda. This happens regardless of seniority in the organization.

In the flat hierarchy of the Norwegian organization, everyone has equal say. A good Norwegian boss will try to guide the conversion and let the participants work it out among themselves so it is common for them to survey the room to ask if anyone has additional thoughts on a subject. Given Norwegians’ shy nature, they almost never do – or at least they feel their potentially disruptive thoughts are not worth sharing.

Meetings in Norway start exactly on time as Norwegians value punctuality. To keep a meeting attendee waiting is considered a great disrespect. Those who deliver work on time and show up for meetings on time earn extra prestige in the workplace. At the same time, arriving early to a meeting is also discouraged as this can create additional stress for the meeting host entertaining you until the meeting starts or other participants are ready.

Meeting Room Culture Norway

In Norway meetings also end exactly on time and typically not a second later. This hard stop gives Norwegians a much needed exit from the room, which of course helps them avoid one of their greatest fears: having to make small talk. When the meeting ends everyone quickly shuffles out of the room. You don’t linger, there is no smooth transition from meeting discussions to small talk. You sort of just look at your shoes and slink towards the exit.

In general it’s not appropriate to talk about one’s private life during meetings in Norway. This should be avoided. From personal experience, I can recommend not over-sharing about your complicated love life, that time you drank excessively and did something ridiculous, or your views on religion and politics in general. Any of those are likely to create discomfort with the meeting participants. Meetings are strictly business affairs.

It’s important you understand Norwegian meeting room culture as you do business here. That’s because in Norway you’re going to have a lot of meetings.

Sometimes you have a meeting to plan the next meeting. 

Christmas Food Christmas in Norway Christmas Traditions Work Culture in Norway Working With Norwegians

Julebord: The Norwegian Christmas Party

Norwegian Julebord - The Christmas Party in Norway - Working With Norwegians

The apex of Norwegian drinking culture, at least as it pertains to the workplace, is Julebord, or the Christmas party. A year’s worth of pent up work frustrations is released on this glorious night. It’s a bit of a fancy night, at least fancier than a typical Norwegian event. Often taking place in a luxury hotel or other fine establishment, this is one night of the year when it’s ok to indulge a little (more like a lot). You’ve almost made it through the brutal winter so perhaps you’ve earned it after all. 

Before you join a Norwegian work Julebord there are a few rules to live by. Let’s go through them.

  • Norwegian men should dust off the suits and ties they never wear for this evening. It’s expected you’ll look a little nice tonight.
  • Norwegian women also get a little fancy and even wear stiletto heels. This is not a sight you often see in Norway as it’s not so easy to traverse snowy streets in such footwear.
  • This is the night to share feedback with your colleagues, good or bad. The alcohol will help you muster up the courage to do so.
  • If you have romantic feelings for a colleague now is the time to let them know. Once again the alcohol should help.
  • It’s perfectly OK to sleep with your boss that night, even if he or she is married!
  • The same rules that apply to Las Vegas apply to Julebord. So what happens at the Julebord stays at the Julebord. Don’t make your coworkers uncomfortable by discussing the night’s events the next day. Or ever again really.

For foreigners, this is a night to celebrate and strengthen your relationship with your Norwegian colleagues. It’s one of the few evenings when this is easy to do. For the Norwegians out there please check in on your foreign workers to ensure they are not overwhelmed. They will not be used to seeing such an overly social experience in Norway. Hand them a shot of aquavit and help them sing along on this wonderful night.

God Jul!

More about a Norwegian Julebord

The Norwegian Julebord, a festive and cherished tradition, is a culinary celebration that marks the joyous holiday season. Rooted in centuries-old customs, this communal feast is a testament to the warmth of Norwegian hospitality and the rich cultural tapestry that defines the country’s festive spirit.

Understanding Julebord: A Culinary Extravaganza

Defining Julebord

Julebord, translating to “Christmas table” in English, is a grand feast that typically takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a time when colleagues, friends, and families come together to indulge in a lavish spread of traditional Norwegian dishes, fostering a sense of unity and festive camaraderie.

The Culinary Palette of Julebord

Classic Norwegian Flavors

  1. Rakfisk and Lutefisk: Julebord often features traditional dishes such as rakfisk (fermented fish) and lutefisk (dried fish rehydrated in a lye solution). These unique delicacies add a distinctive touch to the festive spread.
  2. Ribbe and Pinnekjøtt: Roasted pork rib (ribbe) and steamed lamb ribs (pinnekjøtt) are staple main courses, showcasing the diversity of Norwegian holiday cuisine.
  3. Leverpostei and Julepølse: Liver pâté (leverpostei) and Christmas sausages (julepølse) are delectable appetizers that contribute to the rich tapestry of flavors during Julebord.

The Festive Setting: Atmosphere and Decor

Decorative Splendor

Julebord venues are adorned with festive decorations, creating a warm and inviting ambiance. Traditional Christmas colors, candles, and ornaments contribute to the magical atmosphere that enhances the dining experience.

Live Music and Entertainment

Many Julebord celebrations include live music and entertainment, adding a lively and joyful element to the festivities. Dancing and merriment become integral components of the experience, making Julebord a truly immersive celebration.

The Social Significance of Julebord

Strengthening Bonds

Julebord goes beyond being a mere culinary event; it’s a time for building and strengthening personal and professional relationships. Colleagues share stories, friends toast to the year gone by, and families come together to create lasting memories.

Corporate and Family Traditions

While companies host Julebord for their employees, families also have their private celebrations. These gatherings reinforce the importance of togetherness and provide a platform for expressing gratitude and goodwill.


As you embark on the journey of a Norwegian Julebord, you are not just partaking in a festive meal; you are immersing yourself in a cultural experience that reflects the heart and soul of Norway’s holiday traditions. The flavors, the atmosphere, and the camaraderie come together to make Julebord an integral and cherished part of the Norwegian Christmas season. So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, dive into the magic of Julebord and savor the essence of a Norwegian Christmas celebration.

More Norwegian Christmas Food

Embrace the enchanting Yuletide spirit with a journey through Norway’s Christmas culinary wonders. Our curated category brings you a delectable assortment of festive delights, from traditional main courses to decadent desserts that define the holiday season in Norway. Explore the rich tapestry of flavors and time-honored recipes that make Norwegian Christmas cuisine a true feast for the senses. Let the aromatic allure and cultural significance of these festive dishes transport you to the heart of Scandinavian holiday traditions. Indulge in the joy of Christmas with our handpicked selection of Norwegian Christmas food, where every bite tells a story steeped in tradition and love.