Working in Norway

With rich natural assets and a booming economy, Norway is an ever-popular destination for expats in search of career growth and an improved quality of life.

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Doing business

Norway’s abundance of valuable natural resources like oil, gas, timber, and fish has provided the country with a solid basis for a strong economy. Norway is considered an excellent place to do business, ranking an impressive 6th out of the 190 countries rated in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2017. It scored highly for enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. This year also saw an improvement in Norway’s ratings for getting electricity and ease of paying taxes.

Other strong industries in Norway include mining, textiles, food processing, and wood-pulp and paper products. Such a wide variety of thriving industries provides opportunities for a wide range of expats, all with differing skill-sets, qualifications and professional experience. However, the downside of this attractive business climate is that expats will have to compete with other companies wanting to do similar business in Norway.

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Business culture

The Norwegian ideal of janteloven is especially prevalent when dealing with business. Norwegians don’t like to stand out in any way and that includes praising or being praised at work. Similarly, anything that could possibly be perceived as bragging is just not done. Although Norwegians are hard workers, janteloven can sometimes get in the way of the advancement of a business or company.

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Management style

In keeping with Norway’s egalitarian ideals, companies tend to have a flat hierarchical structure. Managers will commonly ask employees for their opinions and have an open discussion about an issue rather than simply issuing directives.

Punctuality

Norwegians value punctuality and being late is frowned upon. If you are running more than five minutes late for a meeting because of some unforeseen circumstance, it’s best to phone the relevant party to inform them.

Respect

The Norwegian concept of respect is about treating others as equals and not putting yourself above them. Norwegians also like their personal space to be observed and respected so always keep about an arm’s length between yourselves and them.

Fast facts

Business Language

Norwegian is the official business language, but English is spoken widely and fluently.

Business hours

Usually from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, with a half-hour lunch break around noon.

Dress

Business attire is smart-casual with men wearing dark, conservative business suits and women wearing trouser suits or well-tailored dresses. Bright colours and flashy jewellery should be avoided. Shoes must be clean and polished at all times.

Greeting

After the initial introduction with full names, address Norwegians using their first name. Greet with a handshake and keep eye contact. Personal space is sacred in Norway so don’t get too close or be too touchy.

Gifts

Gift giving is uncommon in a business setting in Norway, but small gifts may be given at the conclusion of a business deal. Anything too flashy could be seen as bribery.

Gender equality

Women are respected in business and receive equal pay and benefits to their male counterparts.

Expat salaries

Workers in Norway are well-paid but between the high taxes and the high cost of living, expats will probably not have much disposable income. Still, they will enjoy a high quality of life.

It's a great opportunity to earn more money, see the world and meet different people.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

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Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.