• The International

Dear Denmark, thank you!



Photographs: iStock

Text: Kathy Borys Siddiqui


Now, as with most topics, the truth lies in the middle, and often a lot depends on from which perspective we look at things. The work culture in Denmark provides the employees with a lot of autonomy and freedom to express their opinions. The companies tend to have flat hierarchical structures, people relate to one another as equals and address each other informally (first name basis). The atmosphere in most companies is professional as well as casual and informal. According to copcap.com “The working week in Denmark is 37 hours, giving you the freedom to pick up your children from daycare every day.


Moreover, employees in Denmark earn the right to five weeks paid holiday after 12 months of employment.“ It all sounds fantastic, and it is true for the most part. I have been living in Denmark for many years now, and I have experienced the 37-hour workweek first hand. Now, just to clear things up, the 37-hour workweek is standard but does not apply to everyone. Certain job positions, companies, careers simply require more. It is essential to clarify this and not expect the 37-hour workweek to be the norm for all. How can those who have a more demanding workweek implement work-life balance?


Take what is yours The fact is that we all need balance - especially now during the COVID pandemic. Granted, the work-life balance may be harder to obtain in certain countries and jobs, however, we are still in control of introducing, implementing, and harvesting the fruits of good habits in everyday life. We all have the same amount of time - 24 hours a day - what you do with it, to whom and what you give your attention, and what you prioritise is up to you. The ball is in your court, and that means that you have control over the choices you make.


Therefore, good habits are the key that unlocks the door to the secret garden of abundance. A morning routine or ritual is a fantastic way to jump-start the day. I have created a routine that I follow each day. I start the morning with a swim in the sea then followed by simply enjoying the early morning stillness while sipping my java.


What you decide to incorporate into your routine is up to you and your preferences, however, consistency is essential. Simply open your eyes and going in autopilot to the coffee machine does not mean you are “awake”. How can you be in the here and now? Awareness. One way to be present is to meditate. Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself meditating. But, I tried it, and now I am hooked. A great way to relax, to feel grounded and calm.


"The working week in Denmark is 37 hours, giving you the freedom to pick up your children from daycare every day."- Copenhagen Capacity

Another great practice is journaling. It is creative, awareness-raising, and healing all at the same time. I finish off my routine with a morning run. Not everyone is a runner, and the solution is to choose something you like, it can be as simple as taking a 15-minute walk, dancing to your favourite tunes, running, yoga… as long as you feel joy. There are so many beautiful ways to connect with your inner self and become fully awake and aware. Starting the day out in a systematic approach is a big step in obtaining the sought after balance. We like routines and strive to feel in control; hence, a good habit morning feeds those needs. To practice good habits, we do have to spend time on them. A slower, structured morning is a rewarding way to start the day. How do you stick to a routine? You enjoy it, and you make time for it. Yes, it means that I wake up early, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.


The years I have spent living in Denmark, have allowed me to conclude that among many things Danes enjoy structure and value their time. This goes hand in hand with work-life balance. To have time for the things that bring you joy, serenity, rest and relaxation, you have to choose wisely and make yourself a priority. The fine art of living for me is being fulfilled in my personal life, and professional life and that comes with taking time for the people, tasks, and activities I value and prioritise. Denmark has taught me to be mindful of time - other people’s time and especially my own time.