Overworked? The Real Truth about London vs. Europe Work Life Balance
The work life balance of London employees is a much-disputed topic. However, in the modern day it seems that employers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of happy, balanced employees.
So where do London employees fare in comparison to the rest of Europe?
Modern Day Habits
The introduction of new technologies to our everyday lives, both personal and business makes creating a more laid-back work life easier than ever. The term ‘work life blending’ rather than work life balance has even been used to represent a new working trend. The term refers to employees who carry out social tasks in work time and work tasks during their social time in an attempt to better balance the two worlds.
Flexible working is another advancement that modern technology has provided Londoners. Being able to work from home on certain days of the week or to choose business hours that are more suitable gives employees the freedom to work around other life commitments such as childcare.
This, of course is not without its concerns. Many firms are reluctant to allow employees to work remotely or from their own devices — mobile phone, laptops or tables. Working from personal devises is beginning to impose an ever-increasing security risk. With a culture of hacking, particularly concerning well-established and highly profitable businesses, developing in the modern world, employers are urged to implement strong security on all devices (personal or company owned) that are used for business purposes.
So, while it seems that increasing work life balance amongst London employees is a high priority, even with the connected concerns, how does this compare to the work life balance enjoyed throughout the rest of Europe?
Work Life Balance across Europe
Scientifically, work life balance amounts to hours worked per week verses the amount of time spent on social activities.
Throughout Europe, Parisians seem to have one of the best work life balances. Their working week consists of just 30.8 hours, amounting to 1,603 hours a year. The French also relish in 29 days annual leave and have recently implemented a new ‘work life balance’ law. This law requires businesses with over 50 employees to devise a system that sees workers unplug from their work e-mail on evenings and days off.
Earlier this year, Sweden also officially moved to a six-hour working day. This makes them statistically one of the highest-ranking countries in Europe for a healthy work life balance. Also high on the list is Denmark; the Danes enjoy an average of five weeks holiday per year.
Comparatively, workers in Amsterdam, known to be one of the most laid back cities in Europe, work more hours on average than employees in London. The 33.2 hour week experienced by those in Amsterdam reveals a worse work life balance than in London. An average week in London is 32.9 hours, 1,711 hours per year.
Venturing Deeper — 24 Hour City
However, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, work life balance in real terms is about more than just short working weeks and long holidays. They say that in order to create an ideal place to work and live a country must also consider; offering an enjoyable job, being within a vibrant community, creating an environment not overrun with pollution or gentrification and offer good safety conditions and healthcare. Maybe this is the reason that many Londoners perceive their work-life balance to be below par.
There is another reason that Londoners may perceive their work life balance to be poor; the UK has the highest percentage of people who work evenings and weekends of anyone in Europe.
Trying to compete in a global economy has made the business sphere within London and the UK a 24-hour operation. The UK work on average 13% more weekends and 4% more late nights than the rest of Europe. Those working in hotels and restaurants, of which London has countless, make the highest levels of people working unsociable hours.
So, while in technical terms Londoners’ ‘work life balance’ ranks fairly neutrally compared to the rest of Europe, in terms of shift hours and facilities, it seems we rank fairly low.
Perhaps with the increasing levels of flexible working and innovative business centres, the city will reach equilibrium before too long. Working evenings and weekends however is controversial. Are unsociable hours an unnecessary measure enforced upon workers? Or, are they an example of a thriving and in-demand city that people are happy to be working in?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments blow.