Working in Norway
Expats planning to work in Norway can count themselves lucky. In reports such as the annual European Employee Index, Norway is consistently identified as one of the best countries in the world in which to work.
The vast majority of Norwegians are said to feel satisfied and secure in their job, while the majority of workers believe they could find another job if they wanted to. A strong economy and welfare state has created an environment of trust, confidence and optimism within the labour force.
Expats arriving in Norway with a job lined up can get right down to the business of working within a new culture. Norway’s work culture is generally very supportive of employees, and puts a strong emphasis on balancing the demands of one's work and home life. A Norwegian boss may even be concerned that an employee is working too hard or too much.
Working hours are normally 8am to 4pm, with exceptions made for parents with small children, personal appointments, sickness, and national holidays. If there is a lot of snow or the day is unusually warm, the office may empty early. By law employees have four to five weeks of holiday.
Colleagues with families will normally leave work to pick up kids from school, or go straight home without stopping to socialise. Expats may search the office at 4.05pm, only to find that all their local colleagues have already gone home. Don’t expect Norwegians to work after hours. Some expats find that outside of work hours, the office can be a lonely place. International companies are increasingly using English as the working language, but there is still a strong emphasis placed on Norwegian in the office space.
Norway’s robust economy offers many opportunities for expats, particularly those in the fields of engineering, IT, research and finance. Most expats find work within the shipping, energy, oil and gas industries. Norway has survived the global financial crisis better than most of Europe, and its already-stable economy continues improving. The largest employers in Norway include Aker, Norsk Hydro, Telenor, Orkla, Aker Kvaerner and Statoil.
With a low overall unemployment rate of around 3 percent in 2014, there are often many open positions. However, being a small market, it may be a challenge to find a position that perfectly fits an individual's background and profile.
Multinational firms are known to hire expats, even if they don’t speak Norwegian. Otherwise, the general feeling is that expatriate employees should be able to speak the language and have some experience of the Norwegian market.