First hope that this is the right place to ask.

I'm a software engineer working in Copenhagen, and I'm considering moving to Berlin. I'm worried that I will regret and will miss the Danish working culture.

What I like about the Danish working culture:

  • Relaxed environment: no stress, enjoying work and life
  • Respect and flat hierarchy
  • Flexibility of remote work and working hours
  • You feel validated and respected
  • Your voice matter
  • Good work life balance
  • Social events with the company
  • People very humble and down to earch

Will I find a job in Berlin in a cool startup or corporate that offer the same advantage of Copenhagen.

Why I'm asking ?

I have asked couple of people has worked in Copenhagen and moved to Berlin. And other that have moved from Berlin to Copenhagen and I see a common pattern in their feedback:

  • Too much work and stress
  • Hierarchy and bureaucracy (some mentioned that he feels like he is treated as a slave)
  • No flexibility: you can't have 1 month remote work or agree to have always 1 day per week remote work.
  • High working hours and no flexibility and quantity of hours matter not results
  • People not humble and they are arrogant and feel like they are in Silicon valley and they are stars.

I know this is their personal experience and I should not judge the German working culture based of few feedback BUT when you get always the same feedback then you think twice.

Will I ever find a job in Berlin with Flat Hierarchy and that allow me to work remotely and treat me with respect and offer a relaxed and cosy working environment ?

  • 3
    Why are you moving to Berlin if you feel you might regret it? Setting that aside, "please share your thoughts" is off-topic here. Please visit the help center to understand the kind of questions that are acceptable here. – Masked Man Jul 22 '18 at 11:15

My experience from working in Germany is that the atmosphere is much better in companies with labor unions and councils. I.e. in big companies.

It's only my personal experience but companies or even units of big companies which use buzzwords a lot and which are proud of their "agile" culture resulted to be quite toxic, whereas big companies resulted to have a good, employee-friendly culture - although processes were sometimes crazy when it comes to the amount of red tape.

Why does it matter? Because there's no much industry in Berlin. There are headquarters and branches of some banks and consulting companies, but Berlin is mostly known for its startup culture. Some of the companies, e.g. Zalando, are famous for awful practices towards their employees.

Also, given that the industry is not really well-developed in Berlin, but Berlin is considered sexy and has plenty of people coming there to work or to study, plenty of people compete for positions at the start-ups and they can offer conditions worse than in Bavaria and the West of Germany. The argument is always that the living costs are lower in Berlin than in the South and West, but the costs of accommodation and other things have actually risen dramatically in the last years in Berlin, so the argument is not really valid anymore.

As a result, personally, I wouldn't expect a great culture or, for that matter, salary at most companies in Berlin.

  • I can second this unconditionally. You'll get parties and free food and alcoholic drinks in a lot of incubator startups, but they'll also work you really hard in return, and a lot of people are in IT are hip rather than highly technical. If you want a good work culture and really skilled coworkers, go for a mid-size or larger company that's been around for a long time. There will be technical debt, and there will be lots of people who are less qualified, but if you're good you will quickly rise and work with the real talent that's built the business up. – simbabque Jul 24 '18 at 14:50

In my experience work cultures differ greatly between companies, big and small, start-ups and traditional companies, specialized software developers and companies with just a small software department.

My personal experience was:

  • Companies that develop and sell software as their main product(s) tend to value good developers and are ready to offer remote work or other benefits

  • Companies with a small software department often don't understand the importance and value of software and therefore don't care much for the comfort of their developers

  • Start-ups have developed their own work culture, most probably containing a flat or non-existing hierarchy, the option to work from home, a free supply of Club Mate (lemonade), a table kicker, an Apple device as your mobile worstation and occasional after-work activities. That doesn't mean lesser workload (often the contrary) and employees carry the shared risk of the start-up failing in the long run.

  • Big, established companies offer great job security, but many still have a conservative (if not outright outdated) work policy. I've never encountered a flat hierarchy in one of them and wether or not your ideas get heard strongly depends on your direct manager. They won't bat an eye if you don't work overtime, but you should ask if they allow remote work right at the first job interview.

  • Small companies that don't identify as "start-up" have a hard time competing with all of the aforementioned, so they might offer the most benefits and work-life-balance, just to get some good developers to work for them. A flat hierarchy is mostly a given, as well as hearing everyones oppinions. But don't expect the best pay from them...

In general, I advise you to formulate your wishes as questions for a job interview. That way you show genuine intetest in the position and can get a feeling for the employer before signing any contracts. Many also offer aplicants to work for a few days before signing, so you can actually test the waters with them.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.