Why Can't We All Work at Denmark's Incredible Nykredit Office?

Courtesy Nykredit

Judging by its offices, working at Nykredit will make you happier and healthier and a more responsible member of society. The Copenhagen mortgage bank responsible for almost half of the long-term bonds in Denmark has brought the idea of sustainability and endurance to an almost perverse extreme in the worklives of its employees at the Cube, its glass, harborside tower in the Danish capital.

Courtesy Nykredit

In 2009 the bank began sponsoring the Copenhagen marathon, and since then more than 100 employees and 1,000 customers have competed regularly in the race. Bente Overgaard, one of the bank’s managing directors, has done the city’s marathon five times. “The Danes used to be some of the most-smoking people in Europe,” she says, pointing out the places throughout the bank’s 9-story headquarters where ashtrays were removed a few years after the building was completed in 2001. More than 85 percent of the company’s employees take advantage of yearly physicals offered by the bank to see if their health metrics are in line with their age.

But it’s hard to imagine the daily grind aging Nykredit’s employees, who eat organic, gourmet lunches in the building every day. “You really cannot choose an unhealthy meal. You’d have to try hard,” says Overgaard, standing in the bank’s third-floor cantina surveying the calf brisket, organic whole milk, and salad bar with pickled fish on offer for lunch. Some of the company’s chefs have trained at Copenhagen’s Noma, which has been named the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant magazine the past two years.

Courtesy Nykredit

Every desk in the office’s open floor plan comes with telescoping legs that allow employees to work in the way that’s most comfortable for them, sitting or standing. (As we’ve discussed, this is a potentially life-saving measure.) Nykredit even keeps someone on staff whose job it is to fit employees’ furniture to their bodies. The bank’s workday is also ergonomic. With official business hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,  employees use “flex” time at either end to get work done. They also dress as they wish for work—one product developer was wearing jeans and a white V-neck T-shirt around the office, showing the tattoos on his arms—especially when their jobs don’t entail meeting with clients.

The Danish Institute for Human Rights awarded its MIA prize, an acronym meaning “diversity in the workplace,” to Nykredit for the bank’s attention to gender equality. On one Friday this summer, a female employee was delivering organic coffee on a tray to two male co-workers on the fourth floor around 11 a.m. Asked if she was always responsible for the coffee, one of the men grins and says, “She goes every time we ask her.” The woman shakes her head. “What world are you living in?” she says.

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