Employee Engagement

With numerous studies showing taking regular breaks at work is essential for physical and mental wellbeing, how often do workers around the world take a lunch break at work? Global Workspace Specialists Instant Offices have collated data around the world’s busiest cities and provided insight into how work-life balance has affected the top countries.

The latest research has placed Mexico at the top of the list for most hours worked, with employees in the country putting in 2137 hours annually. This is followed by Costa Rica, at 2059.6 hours a year, Korea at 1967 hours a year, and Greece at 1949 hours a year. At the other end of the scale, Denmark, Germany and Norway have the lowest average annual working hours, all coming in at below 1400.

Between 2015 and 2019, the countries experiencing the sharpest increase in the number of annual hours worked were the Czech Republic, New Zealand and the UK, rising by 32, 28 and 11 hours respectively. Meanwhile, Korea saw the most significant decline in annual working hours in the same period, dropping by 116 hours. This was followed by Costa Rica, with an 88.6-hour decrease, and Chile, with an 84-hour drop.

A survey of 27 countries revealed some key facts about how employees are balancing their days between time spent at their desks, and time spent on breaks. It seems the concept of a “lunch hour” has become a thing of the past, with the average lunch break lasting 35 minutes.

Countries with the most extended lunch break times are predominantly in Asia, while the lowest are mostly found in Europe.

Top five countries with the longest lunch breaks:

Country Lunch Break Duration
Brazil 48 minutes
Malaysia 47 minutes
Japan 46 minutes
Portugal 44 minutes
South Korea 43 minutes

Top five countries with the shortest lunch breaks:

Country Lunch Break Duration
Mexico 30 minutes
New Zealand 30 minutes
Spain 28 minutes
Poland 24 minutes
Greece 19 minutes

Being in the top 5 countries for longest annual working hours and shortest daily lunch breaks, Mexico and Greece are some of the world’s busiest (and likely most overworked) cities. Mexico’s annual working hours have remained relatively steady with a small drop of 3 hours since 2015, while Greece’s hours have risen slightly by 5.

With 74% of Greek workers reporting that they get only 15 minutes or no lunch break, Greece is undoubtedly one of the European nations most lacking in a healthy work-life balance.

Not only does Mexico have some of the longest annual hours and shortest break times, but it also currently has the second-worst work-life balance score globally according to Statista (1.1, second only to Colombia at 0.9). The US and the UK were also among the worst-scoring countries, scoring 6 and 6.4 respectively.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands, which has some of the lowest annual working hours, is ranked as having the best work-life balance, with a score of 9.5. Denmark and Norway, two more countries listed as having the lowest annual working hours, also made the top 10 for the best work-life balance.

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