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Who works the most in the world?

23 November, 2015

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Date of Publication: 23 November, 2015
Apparently, working hours vary significantly from country to country. Typically, the Eastern-most regions are famous to put in the longest hours – sometimes with tragic aftermaths. Europe, on the other hand, seems to promote a healthier working system, providing its employees with an all and all softer schedule. Here’s the picture country by country.  

Working hours in Asia

Asia’s reputation for very long working hours is strong, especially in economies such as Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. Japan has even coined a specific word (karoshi) to describe the death by overwork. India, as many other countries there tied to the West, has to put in the weight of an odd time schedule, determined by a different time zone. For example, if you are in India and you’re working on a US project, you’ll find yourself with a 2am-11pm workday, and this is fairly common in the IT sector.

Working hours in Canada & US

Canadians are in the office for an average of 36.6 hours per week, while US citizens work around 1,700 hours per year. As much as these results seem to show an idyllic picture, it is true that both Canada and US are among the countries with less vacation per year. Moreover the 9 to 5 is still the norm, but employees are somewhat pushed to work more, in order to accomplish all the tasks they are given.

Working hours in Europe

These are the countries with more vacation, there’s no doubt about it. Officially, here you’re expected to work from 9 to 5 or 9 to 6, in general. But, since you’re not supposed to work more than that, if you do, it is often totally on you: meaning that your overtime is neither something the company reckon, nor compensate. This is particularly true when it comes to sectors like communication or services, where the crisis struck harder, shrinking the workforce in numbers, but requiring the same output. Despite the official data, it’s not uncommon in cities like Milan to see people leaving their office building at night, after a good 12 hours on their desk, having putting in 4 hours of work completely for free.

Working hours in Australia

As much as 9 to 5 is expected down under, here flexibility is the key: as long as you put in your 8 hours you’re allowed to do so from 7 to 3 or 11 to 7. Anyone who wants to climb the ladder should expect to work more, of course, but all and all this country has a deep respect for the worklife balance.

The crisis had a negative impact on working hours all over the world, and the rising of the East has somewhat imposed longer workdays. Europe and Australia still are the more attentive countries when it comes to balance work and life, but everything depends on the sector and, even, the city you are going to work in. 

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