Balance lacking in Bangkok

Balance lacking in Bangkok

Thai capital second to last in survey of 50 cities for factors that support healthy work-life balance

A BTS skytrain is set to pass through Saint Louis station on Sathorn Road in Bangkok. The Thai capital ranked 49th overall in the latest survey by Kisi. Arnun Chonmahatrakool
A BTS skytrain is set to pass through Saint Louis station on Sathorn Road in Bangkok. The Thai capital ranked 49th overall in the latest survey by Kisi. Arnun Chonmahatrakool

Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok are home to the most overworked people in major cities in the world, according to a new study on work-life balance by Kisi, a US-based mobile access technology specialist.

Comparing data on work intensity, institutional support, livability and more, the study ranks 50 major cities based on their success in promoting work-life balance for their residents before, during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Bangkok ranked 49th overall, with only Kuala Lumpur faring worse.

Helsinki, Oslo and Zurich top the index for the most holistic work-life balance, compared to the most stressed cities in the study: Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Buenos Aires. Among the highlights:

Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok have the most overworked populations (20-30%), while in Japan 26.3% of men overwork compared to 8.32% of women. Inhabitants of Brussels, Amsterdam and Copenhagen overwork the least (around 10%).

Denmark, Finland and Norway offer the most Covid economic support to their citizens, while Brazil, Argentina and the United States offer the least.

As a company whose goal is enhancing people's personal and professional lives through technological innovation, Kisi set out to discover which cities worldwide are meeting their residents' lifestyle demands for a more attractive place overall to work and live.

"In response to research on modern work culture, this study aims to go beyond generic metrics such as cost of living while addressing how working and living conditions have shifted in global cities during the pandemic," the company said.

The study is not intended to be a livability index or to highlight the best cities to work in. Instead, it aims to help cities benchmark their ability to support residents by improving the aspects of urban life that help relieve work-related stress and intensity.

"With an ever-increasing burnout rate worldwide, self-care and time management are becoming higher priorities," the company said. "This study was conducted in the hope that it will bring awareness to the multiple ways in which cities and countries can contribute to the overall happiness and well-being of the workforce within and outside of times of crisis."

Kisi conducted its first study in 2019, looking at work intensity, livability and the well-being and rights of inhabitants. Much has changed since then, however, because of the pandemic. Working from home, taking next-to-no vacations and being separated from loved ones has undermined the delicate balance more than ever.

This year's index also shows how cities rank against their pre-pandemic statuses, painting a picture of how Covid has changed and continues to affect people's work-life balance in major cities around the world.

The researchers began by looking at the adaptability of a location for remote working, calculating the percentage of jobs classified as "teleworkable" in each city.

Next, the overall work intensity of a city was assessed, based on factors related to overworking, holiday allowance and parental leave. Special attention was paid to unemployment rates, and the percentage of people who have had to take multiple jobs in order to get by.

The analysis of Covid-related economic support looked at factors such as access to state-funded health and welfare programmes, as well as institutional support for gender equality and social inclusivity. A livability score reflected a city's affordability as well as citizens' overall happiness, safety and access to wellness and leisure venues.

"Of course, the fundamental principles of work-life balance remain the same -- time off, minimising overtime, having access to leisure pursuits -- however the pandemic has highlighted that the balance before was weighted too far towards work and not enough towards life," said Bernhard Mehl, the CEO and co-founder of Kisi.

To view the full study, visit

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