Over the last five years, the term ‘work life balance’ has become a popular buzz phrase. Used to describe the allocation of time between work and leisure, as a rule, we’ve been concerned with making sure the two are equal. But, in the modern world of work, we’re now seeing the lines between the entities blur like never before.

As a result, worklife is a new concept we’ve created to describe the entirety of a person’s time. No longer are lives compartmentalised. Instead, work and life are intertwined for greater flexibility and enhanced wellbeing.

Where ten years ago, childcare would likely have to be fit around traditional working hours, now, many businesses are offering home working and flexible hours to allow employees to complete their tasks when it suits them most.

The same goes for socialising and the pursuit of hobbies.

In our recent survey of 2,500 European employees, we explored the concept of worklife and its prevalence across five key regions, including the Netherlands – largely regarded as a frontrunner in achieving employee happiness.

How well is the ‘worklife’ concept being received in the Netherlands?

Overall, we found that Dutch workers – especially men – were extremely responsive to many elements of worklife.

Although almost half of those we surveyed admitted to being strict about keeping their work and leisure time separate, the general themes of their answers largely supported our worklife concept.

This could perhaps be down to cultural factors. In the Netherlands, there is already a trend for part-time working – known as deeltijd – with the number of working hours being lower than the rest of Europe.

According to the latest OECD Better Life Index, the Netherlands took first place in achieving the best work-life balance out of all 38 countries evaluated.

So when asked if they thought the growing convergence between home and worklife could be beneficial, it wasn’t overly surprising that 35% of Dutch men and 31% of women answered ‘yes’. 

How does it fair in practice?

When analysing how well worklife principles are currently being adopted, we looked at the gender split. We found that when it comes to working from home, 65% of Dutch men do compared to 50% of women. And this is even though only 13% of men are chief caregivers in comparison to 28% of women.

This alludes to the male demographic prioritising activities outside of childcare in their free time.

The most coveted employee benefit amongst Dutch workers is flexible working hours, which was selected by 38% of men and 33% of women
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Mirroring the worklife concept inside the office, some Dutch companies are already offering perks such as free learning (33%), gym membership (11%) and free fruit and healthy snacks (21%), allowing people to carry over aspects of what might be considered their home lives into the office.

What more can be done to offer the ultimate worklife experience?

A number of companies are blazing a trail when it comes to helping the global workforce in achieving their optimum worklife.

One Dutch start-up, Swapfiets, rents out bicycles on a subscription basis to support workers in travelling in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way. The bikes can be ridden to and from work, and used during recreational time.

 

Elsewhere, innovative travel company Airbnb offers its employees an annual stipend of $2,000 to travel and stay in one of its listings anywhere in the world. While members of the Salesforce team receive six days of paid volunteer time off per year, alongside $1,000 a year to donate to a charity of their choice.

Although businesses such as these are leading the way in embodying the worklife concept, there is still a long way to go. Countries like the UK, which are falling behind in terms of employee wellbeing and happiness could perhaps learn a thing or two from their neighbours in the Netherlands, and beyond, to help make worklife the norm on a global scale.

Anette Timmer EMEA Marketing Director Carpets/Workplace

Anette is passionate about driving the debate around employee health & wellbeing through sustainable design innovation and industry collaboration.

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