Career and working
Moving to a different country is a big decision to make, but there are many advantages to working and living in Norway as a researcher. Coming to work in Norway can be a good career move and may improve your work-life balance. This is something to take into consideration if you have to choose between different locations.
Norway is among the top 10 countries in terms of work-life balance (for more information see OECD Better Life Index Norway). Looking behind the statistics, what does this really mean for you and what is the difference between Norway and other similar countries?
First, the working environment in Norway is very well regulated (for more information see Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority > Working conditions in Norway). Many employers operate with core working hours – the hours that you must be present at work – and flexible working hours, which can be juggled more freely. In a 40-hour work week this may give you some latitude, for example, to leave earlier one day or work longer hours on another day.
Second, Norwegian employers are generally understanding regarding family commitments, and it is widely accepted for employees to leave early or come late on some occasions e.g. either to drop off or pick up children at day care. In addition, there are many regulated leave situations, for example in connection with pregnancy or children’s illness (for more information see New in Norway > Work > Employment > Leave).
Norway has high labour productivity. This means that although there is flexibility in working hours, the hours worked are very productive.
Most Norwegian work environments have a flat structure. The atmosphere in the workplace is quite informal, and employees are generally able to communicate directly with their superiors. Even when there is a clear hierarchy, it is not necessarily evident in the workplace on a daily basis. For example, as a young researcher you might find yourself entrusted with more responsibility by your superiors than you would expect. This is part of the culture of independency at work based on trust.
You will normally be invited to a work appraisal interview once a year. This interview is one of the requirements relating to organisation, participation and development at work regulated by the Working Environment Act (for more information see Labour Inspection Authority > The Working Environment Act). In general, the appraisal interview is conducted in an egalitarian manner. Discussions revolve around standard topics relating to the employee's performance, as well as potential areas of improvement for the employer. Topics such as goal-setting, feedback, participation and training are usually covered in depth. This dialogue can also be used as a way of setting short-term career goals.
As in any other country, the purpose of the probation period is to give both the employee and the employer time to find out if they are well suited. The employee has somewhat less protection against dismissal during the probation period. According to Section 15-6 (3) of the Working Environment Act, the employee and employer may agree on a trial period of up to six months. However, if an employee has been absent from work during the trial period, the employer may extend the agreed probation period by a period corresponding to the period of absence. Such an extension may only take place when the employee has been informed of this option in writing at the time of his or her appointment and when the employer has informed the employee of the extension in writing prior to the expiry of the probation period. The right to extend the trial period does not apply to absences caused by the employer.
In families with dual careers it is important to take into account the careers of both partners in a relationship when planning a research stay in another country. It is not uncommon for both partners to be researchers and if that is the case research positions may need to be found for both of them.
Sometimes only one of the partners is a researcher, and the other will want to look for other types of positions or study opportunities or may choose to start their own business or stay at home with children.
Contact your local EURAXESS Contact point to find out whether help regarding dual careers is available there.
At present, career counselling is not available everywhere on a general basis. Contact your local EURAXESS Contact point to find out whether it is available in your location.