Work-life balance: these are the best – and worst – cities to live and work in

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Amy Beecham
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New data has revealed the best – and worst – cities in the world for achieving work-life balance. And London is far from leading the pack…

The elusive work-life balance. It’s something most of us struggled with before the pandemic, but do even more now that the boundaries between home and work have been well and truly blurred. 

We all know what a lack of it looks balance, though. Always eating lunch at our desks, never taking all of our holiday days and checking our emails before we’ve even brushed our teeth are all recognisably unhealthy behaviours that we’re *probably* all guilty of. 

The good news is that it seems at least some parts of the world know how to achieve a  healthy work/life balance. 

Data from software company Kisi compared 50 cities worldwide, recognising which of them encourage a healthy balance both directly and indirectly through policies and urban infrastructure, while also considering the impact of the pandemic.

They studied three elements: work intensity, society and institutions and city livability – all of which they say contribute to work-life balance, during and beyond the pandemic.

Here’s what they found.  

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Best cities in the world for work-life balance

  1. Helsinki, Finland
  2. Oslo, Norway
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Stockholm, Sweden
  5. Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. Ottawa, Canada
  7. Munich, Germany
  8. Vancouver, Canada
  9. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  10. Sydney, Australia

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was some of the Scandinavian countries that came out on top. Famed for their progressive cultural attitudes and well-rounded living, northern Europe consistently ranks highly when it comes to quality of life. Finland was even voted the happiest country in the world

helsinki work-life balance
Work-life balance: workers in Helsinki, Finland were found to have the best work-life balance.

“These cities had the best social, cultural and structural systems in place in order to provide their residents with the most well-rounded work-life balance, in terms not only of work intensity, but also livability, well-being and rights,” Kisi commented.

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Most overworked cities in the world 

  1. Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  2. Singapore, Singapore

  3. Bangkok, Thailand
  4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  5. Seoul, South Korea
  6. Tokyo, Japan
  7. Houston, USA
  8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  9. Calgary, Canada
  10. London, UK
These, according to the data, are the locations where employees are the most burnt out, stressed and burdened by their work.
Hong Kong worst work-life balance
Work-life balance: Hong Kong ranked the worst city for work-life balance.

It really wasn’t good news for London: it ranked in the top ten of most overworked populations, and 20th out of the 50 countries for overall work/life balance. However, we did rank highly for remote working and inclusivity and tolerance, so it’s not all bad.

We guess we better double up on the yoga and mindfulness journalling, though. 

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Amy Beecham

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