Oslo braces for wave of homeless Europeans

Oslo city authorities have expressed concerns that as many as 2,000 job seekers from southern and eastern Europe could end up living on the streets of the capital this spring.

Oslo braces for wave of homeless Europeans
Photo: Berit Keilen/Scanpix

With the economic crisis tightening its grip on large parts of the continent, the city fears that growing numbers of jobless Europeans will make their way to Oslo in the hope of finding work, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

“Last year we estimated that 500 to 1,000 people were living more or less permanently in different outdoor areas in the city,” said Hans Edvardsen, head of the city’s Urban Environment Agency  (Bymiljøetaten).

“Because of the financial crisis we expect a major increase in the number of people heading north to seek a better life.”

The agency is now calling for the creation of an action plan to prepare for the expected influx. A meeting is being planned with the police, volunteer organizations and municipal authorities in order to discuss how best to deal with the situation.

Social affairs councillor Anniken Hauglie of the Conservative Party (Høyre) said she welcomed the initiative, since she believed many new arrivals in the city would soon learn that it was more difficult than they had imagined to find work.  

She also suggested that the city should be able to rely on help from the state if the problem escalates.  

“Citizens of countries in the European Economic Area are clearly required to be able to provide for themselves,” she said.

“Nobody can travel to Norway and expect to be given housing or other social benefits. People who are unable to support themselves must therefore be strongly recommended to go home.”

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Norway most productive country in northern Europe: research

A report detailing productivity levels in over 35 countries says that Norway’s output per person has grown by 9 percent over the past year, despite the country having t one of the shortest working weeks.

Norway most productive country in northern Europe: research
Photo: pxhidalgo/Depositphotos

The second annual Global Productivity report, released by B2B marketplace Expert Market, reveals the workforces that bring the most back to the businesses they work for, and the results revealed that the Nordic region is the most productive in Europe.

The report investigates productivity levels in over 35 countries using GDP per capita data divided by the average number of hours worked to determine the productivity sum per person, and identify the countries with the most effective workforces. 

Norway emerged as the overall productivity winner in Northern Europe, ranking in second place overall, with an output per person that has grown by 9 percent over the past year. 

Norwegian workers enjoy one of the shortest workweeks at 27 hours and yield an impressive productivity sum of £39.72 (337 kroner) per person for every hour worked.

The results of the report show that being chained to your desk does not necessarily translate to an economic advantage, say the researchers behind it.

“Our data has shown, both this year and last year when we first ran the study, that there is a definite correlation between a shorter working week and productivity. Countries that have shorter working weeks in general are more productive, whereas countries which have a culture of presenteeism and long desk hours actually get less out of their teams,” Adelle Kehoe, lead researcher at Expert Market, told The Local via email.

READ ALSO: Feature: How to get a job in Norway (from 2013)

Kehoe added that there were some exceptions to the trend.

“Germany, for instance, has the shortest working week of all of the countries included but productivity there has gone down. This suggests that in Norway and Denmark, the move to shorter hours must have come with a very clear cultural shift about what you can get done in a shorter space of time, and a focus on focusing and delivering while at work and then having more time away from the office to reboot in between,” she said.

Iceland climbed the list by the most places, moving by 10 positions from 15th to 5th. 

Graphic: Expert Market

Workers in Iceland clock up slightly longer hours than Norwegians but appear to put their time to much better use, according to the report, as the productivity per person skyrocketed by 48 percent in just 12 months. 

Denmark also ranked among the top 10 most productive countries, moving up from 7th to 4th place. 

The UK is one of the few countries in Europe where the output is in decline – the productivity per person dipped by an alarming 7 percent over the past year alone. 

The results of the report added important perspective in discussion of how different working cultures can be effective, Kehoe told The Local.

“I think there is an interesting conversation going on, especially in tech and new businesses about the impact of presenteeism, or the culture of long working hours. This study is a simple way to assess the outcome vs. the input and work out which approach yields the best results.

“Seeing the performance of countries like Norway and Denmark really backs up our ethos as a business where work-life balance is championed and there are no medals for time spent at your desk,” she said. 

READ ALSO: Norway named the world’s happiest country