As Brits continue to spend an extensive amount of time at home, the importance of maintaining a good work-life balance has never been so vital. For their 2021 Work-Life Balance Index, the personal finance experts at money.co.uk have delved through ONS data to uncover where in Britain is best situated for its residents to achieve a good work-life balance.

And the answer is to leave the mainland. The Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, is officially the best place in Britain to live and work in the most balanced way. Residents on the scenic islands were found to rank highly on all positive lifestyle related factors (happiness (7th), serenity (6th), life satisfaction (3rd)).

The islands have a significantly low unemployment rate, compared with the rest of the country (2.8% vs 5%). Workers also possess a good balance of hours worked weekly (35), and a solid year on year (YoY) pay increase (+9.8% vs UK average of +3%). Not to mention access to incredible views and an abundance of nature.

The South West district of West Devon also scored strongly on the index and secured second place. Ranking fourth for happiness in the country and fourth for life satisfaction. On average, workers are spending 32.8 hours at work weekly, and the unemployment rate is almost half of the UK average (2.6% vs 5%).

In third is North East Derbyshire. The local authority ranks high for life satisfaction levels (sixth), and 94% residents possess private outdoor spaces, enhancing their wellbeing, away from office hours.

Additionally, YoY pay for workers in the region sits high at +10.8%, and unemployment levels are two fifths of the UK average (3%).

Workers living in both the South East of England and Scotland have the best work-life balance. Analysis for the index reveals that 40% of the top 20 is dominated by the two regions collectively.

Despite London dominating the category of access to parks and playing fields, the capital falls short for other factors, resulting in a low average work-life balance score of 37.78 points.

Wales, The North East and Yorkshire and The Humber, have no districts represented in the top 20.

Best locations for a good work-life balance in each region of UK

East Midlands – North East Derbyshire (work life balance score – 91.5)
East of England – Babergh (work life balance score – 83)
London – Richmond Upon Thames (work life balance score – 69.3)
North East – Halton (work life balance score – 70.2)
North West – Ribble Valley (work life balance score – 88.9)
Scotland – Outer Hebrides (work life balance score – 94.5)
South East – Arun (work life balance score – 84.7)
South West- West Devon (work life balance score – 92.2)
Wales – Flintshire (work life balance score – 66.6)
West Midlands – Newcastle Under Lyme (work life balance score – 85.8)
Yorkshire and the Humber- East Riding of Yorkshire (work life balance score – 68.7)

Overall, money.co.uk analysed eight data sources to determine which British district is the best location to maintain a good work-life balance.

(Craven, South Hams and West Devon rank fourth officially for happiness due to Daventry and Melton coming in joint second)

Over a third of the Local Authorities within the top 20 are coastal, (Outer Hebrides, West Devon, Saffron, Orkney islands, Highland, Fylde, Arun). Additionally, the unemployment rate in all locations in the top 20 is below the UK average of 5%

Overall, the 20 happiest places to live in Great Britain in 2020 are: Outer Hebrides, West Devon, North East Derbyshire, Ribble Valley, Newcastle-under-Lyme, East Dunbartonshire, Staffordshire Moorlands, Staffordshire Moorlands, Staffordshire Moorlands, Arun, Orkney Islands, High Peak, Babergh, St Albans, Tanbridgem Havant, Melton, Highland, Gravesham, Fylde, Stratford-on-Avon. 

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk says: “Maintaining a good work-life balance is important however, it is often easier said than done, especially right now.

“Juggling the pressures of home and work life during a pandemic is not easy but making time for yourself and reducing the amount of demands you put on yourself is key.

“Financial worries can add to the stress of work and home life, so make sure you prioritise sorting out your budget and making cuts where you can to avoid any added  pressure.

“If your debts become unmanageable, make sure you get free, impartial advice from trusted sources, such as the UK’s leading debt charity StepChange, to help you.”

Lauren Paton, founder of Unleashed Coaching says“ Work-life balance used to be about the separation of professionals from home life but thanks to the pandemic many of us are living, working, teaching and parenting all in the same space so the lines are incredibly blurred.

“It’s more important than ever to find ways  to create a balance, to avoid burnout, protect our mental health and reduce anxiety. Setting impossible goals for self-care can actually cause us more stress, so sometimes it’s about making small changes throughout the day which help to redress the balance.

“Find ways to disconnect – step away from your workspace, go for a walk, call a friend or just sit and breathe for five minutes every couple of hours.

“Create boundaries, whether this is a work curfew after which you’re unavailable, a specific number of hours you’ll spend on Zoom each day, or 15 minutes you’ll take for yourself away from family responsibilities. Block this time in your diary, and get some fresh air every day.”


The Index  

Our “Work-Life Balance” index is based on an analysis of ONS data. Eight different factors were considered in our rankings, and scored equally between the various categories.

*Annual estimates related to working hours and pay are provided to the tax year that ended April 5th 2020. Due to the CJS commencing 2 weeks before, the majority of findings related to hours of pay were not impacted by the scheme. Therefore, we conclude it to be a realistic measure of work-life balance. 

**Employees on adult rates whose pay for the survey pay-period was not affected by absence. Estimates for 2020 include employees who have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.