How Working Hours Differ Around the World

Different working hours around the world

Lillie Mcguire
Posted on April 16, 2018 at 12:04pm

We devote a significant amount of our lives to work. It plays an important role after all. Work affords us the opportunity to earn a living, ensuring that we have a roof over our head, food on the table and savings for a rainy day. Today’s business world is as fast-paced and unpredictable as it’s ever been. Employers expect more from their staff and as a result, employees are putting themselves under significant pressure to put in longer hours and achieve greater results.

We feel increasingly obliged to work longer hours, check our emails all the time and take work home with us in the evenings and over weekends. The accepted 9am to 5pm working day has become a thing of the past, and for many people around the world, the average workday starts earlier and finishes later.

Maintaining a work-life balance has become more important in our modern world. Essential not only for your health, relationships and overall well-being, it can also improve the efficiency of your work performance. You need to make time to have fun, relax and spend a few hours playing games, watching movies or simply unwinding, without having to think about work. If you do this, you’ll be more motivated when you step back in to the office, and you’ll be able to think more clearly too.

Global Comparison

The latest Employment Outlook report, published in 2017 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), surveyed 38 countries to determine the average hours worked annually in each country. The average German spends the least amount of hours working, totalling 1,363 hours annually.

This equates to about 26 hours a week- it must have something to do with German efficiency. In contrast, the average citizen of Mexico works 2,255 hours a year, which translates to just over 43 hours a week. Below, we’ve ranked the top and bottom five countries according to OECD data.

Top 5 countries that work the most hours annually:

  1. Mexico – 2255 hours
  2. Costa Rica – 2212 hours
  3. South Korea – 2069 hours
  4. Greece – 2035 hours
  5. Chile – 1974 hours

Top 5 countries that work the least hours annually:

  1. Germany – 1363 hours
  2. Denmark – 1410 hours
  3. Norway – 1421 hours
  4. Netherlands -1430 hours
  5. France – 1442 hours

Benefits of Maintaining a Work-Life Balance

  • Fewer Health Problems:

It’s no secret that when we are overworked, tired and stressed, our health suffers. We jeopardise not only our physical health but our mental health too. A lopsided work-life balance can result in a number of symptoms that affect our wellbeing. These can range from increased susceptibility to catching the flu, to more serious medical conditions such as respiratory problems and strokes. UCL conducted a study of more than 10,000 white-collar participants and found that those who worked three or more hours longer than required, increased their risk of heart-related problems by 60% in comparison to those who didn’t work overtime.

  • Increased Engagement:

Companies that supported their workforce in finding a comfortable balance between work and home, saw an increase in engagement levels. This typically sees employees who willingly go the extra mile and display more loyalty towards the company, its brand and product. One study found that engaged staff are 2.5 times more likely to work late if something needs to be done after the regular work day has ended.

  • More Mindfulness:

By maintaining a healthy work-life balance, one becomes more mindful and focused on what you are doing- whatever that may be. You develop a greater control over your ability to concentrate, be fully focused and dedicated to the task at hand. In a working environment that encourages its workforce to maintain a healthy work-life balance, we see retention rates go up and productivity improve, which ultimately has a positive impact on profit.

  • Less Susceptible to Burnouts:

We all encounter stress in some shape or form while we are working, and while this might not be out of the norm, having a burnout should not be seen as a similarly common occurrence. People often experience burnouts when they feel overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands of the job. Burnouts have far-reaching physical and psychological effects and impact both social and personal aspects of life. By sustaining an even-keeled balance between work and home, you are less likely to experience a burnout, as clear boundaries have been set between the two spheres of your life. This means that the stress of work stays at the office and does not infiltrate your home life.