What is this ‘work-life balance’ you speak of? Does that mean holiday? According to a recent study by TotallyMoney, a UK-based credit comparison website, Scandinavian countries consistently earn top marks for work-life balance, followed by other countries across the continent. Taking into consideration factors like average hours worked per day, time devoted to play, and total bank holidays, here are the 10 best countries for those looking to inject a little more leisure into their lives.
Feel like your work seeps into your personal life too much? Maybe you should move to Belgium. Workers here enjoy an average of 8.6 hours of free time per day – which trumps their 7.4-hour work days. Locals really value quality family time, getting home in time for dinner each night and taking a full month-long vacation over the summer to coincide with school breaks.
Many offices in Austria have an 8-5 workday – except for Fridays, when employees are encouraged to go home at 3pm. Never-ending ‘summer Fridays’ aside, the country is also one of the best in the world for people looking to relocate; according to a recent study, 80 per cent of expats in Austria said their work-life balance improved since moving there (compared to the 53 per cent global average). We imagine those epic Alpine views could have helped tip the scales.
The German government has several regulations in place to make sure its citizens don’t overwork themselves. (‘You will have fun!’) Its shop closing law (or Ladenschlussgesetz) strictly regulates when stores open and close each day, with most places shutting down around 6pm. and not opening at all on Sundays. And the work-hour regulations (Arbeitszeitgesetz) say you can’t put in more than 48 hours a week – or work Sundays or national holidays.
Working on Sundays is outlawed in Luxembourg (exceptions include maintenance and security jobs), which is a government restriction we can get behind. The country also scores well in the sleep and holiday departments, with citizens getting an average of 7.2 hours of shut-eye per night and a minimum of five weeks paid annual leave – in addition to national holidays.
A country with early afternoon siestas has that work-life thing down (naps are proven to increase productivity). If you need another reason to find employment in Spain, how does an annual holiday allowance of 30 days sound?
Tied with Spain, the country spends the most time – 9.3 hours per day – devoted to free time and relaxation. Perhaps that’s why cafés seem perpetually full of blissful people with cigarettes or drinks? In 2017, France also introduced a law that allows workers the ‘right to disconnect’ from after-hours work emails.
At first glance, work hours in Finland look pretty similar to those in the USA or UK: Monday to Friday, 8-5. The difference? Their lunch breaks are one to two hours long (perhaps reindeer meat takes longer to digest?). Don’t forget that this nation gave its citizens four ‘Nature Days’ to celebrate its 100th birthday outside, so it clearly has something figured out.
Read More: cntraveller