These are the best — and worst — cities for work-life balance

This content was published on May 25, 2022 – 12:01

(Bloomberg) — The best city for work-life balance: Oslo. The most overworked? Dubai.

That’s according to a study released Wednesday by mobile access technology company Kisi, which looked at factors such as work intensity and livability in the city, as well as quality health care, cost of affordable living and enough free time. While a typical worker in Helsinki – number three for work-life balance on the list – takes a full month of paid vacation each year, for example, the norm in Los Angeles is just one week.

For many, the pandemic has been an opportunity to rethink priorities and take big steps forward, like moving to a new city. And as the labor market continues to heat up, plans to return to work across all sectors have failed. Employees have resisted — relishing the flexibility offered by remote work — and many are willing to switch jobs if their company mandates in-person work. Companies like Airbnb Inc. are promising permanent work-from-home policies to lure applicants in an increasingly intense competition for talent. Municipal leaders looking to take advantage of newfound labor mobility and seize the opportunity to broaden their tax base and boost their economies will need to be competitive in many areas.

In this context, certain financial and business hubs, which have long been economic powers, have ranked poorly. New York City dipped in the rankings, ranking 59 out of 100 cities, down from 38 the year before and 21 in 2019 before the pandemic took hold. London, although ranked significantly higher, also fell – to 27 in 2022 from 20 the year before and 12 in 2019.

Exhausted workers might instead consider Amsterdam, Buenos Aires or Sydney, where less than 10% of the population is overworked, the study found. Those who cherish their five-minute morning commute from bed to living room might want to consider Singapore, Washington DC or Austin, where the highest percentage of work can be done remotely at around 50%.

Kisi studied 51 US metropolitan areas and 49 major global cities on more than 130 data points, such as overwork rates, access to health care and safety measures to assess work intensity, rights and the well-being of the inhabitants.

“The past few years have tested the support structures in place for employees around the world,” said Bernhard Mehl, Managing Director of Kisi. “The continued stress and disruption caused by the pandemic has been followed by a war in Ukraine, contributing to global instability that will be felt for years.”

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