Compared with the rest of the UK, office workers in Scotland are most likely to feel dissatisfied with their work-life balance – that is according to a study conducted by YouGov in conjunction with mobile workstyles and cloud services provider, Citrix.

The findings, published today, reveal that over a quarter (27%) of Scots describe their work-life balance as unmanageable, significantly higher than the national average of 19%. Nearly one in ten of these Scottish respondents (9%) believe their job has a constant and negative impact on their ability to have a personal life, and classify their work-life balance as ‘terrible’.

Conducted in July, more than 900 office workers were polled on their attitudes to balancing home and work lives, revealing dramatic differences from region to region.

According to the figures, things are more positive in the south of the UK, where the percentage of office workers describing their work-life balance as ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ was just 16%. In comparison, 56% of southerners questioned felt their work-life balance was either ‘good’ (45%) or ‘perfect’ (11%).  Looking at the country as a whole, just under a third (32%) of respondents reported their work-life balance as ‘manageable’.

When divided by working status, the research found it was part-time workers who came out on top, with nearly twice as many part-time (21%) than full-time (12%) office workers claiming to have a ‘perfect’ work-life balance.

“When it comes to achieving a work-life harmony, some of us are clearly doing better than others,” said James Stevenson, area vice president of Citrix Northern Europe. “This could be for a number of reasons of course, but it’s particularly interesting to see the difference in attitudes between full-time and part-time workers. Whilst working part-time isn’t an option for all of us, adopting a more flexible approach to work could allow full-time workers to reap some of the benefits of our part-time peers.”

“Ultimately, work-life harmony is all about giving people the choice to work in the way that they want, and the technology is already available to empower those choices,” continued Stevenson. 

“I’d certainly like to see Scottish workers faring better in future work-life balance polls, and central to this will be a change in the mindset of employers. Companies are fast waking up to the realisation that it’s less about a nine-to-five mentality, and more about working smarter, while also balancing out the pressures of a home life. Over the next few years, I expect to see more businesses embracing the cost and efficiency benefits of mobile working, and also passing those benefits onto employees.”

Professor Cary Cooper CBE, distinguished professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, added: “Today’s research throws up some interesting questions about the realities of working in modern Britain. Are certain sections of the country just better at juggling the pressures of their work and home lives than others?

There are obviously a number of factors at play here, but there does appear to be a strong correlation between those regions reporting a poor work life balance, and those regions hit hardest by the recession. Workers in Scotland, and the West Midlands were among the worst affected by the financial downturn, and it’s possible that these areas are still suffering as a result. It’s not hard to imagine employees feeling under pressure to work longer, more unsociable hours, as a result of colleagues being made redundant.”

Dr Almuth McDowall, a chartered psychologist and lecturer at the University of Surrey specialising in work-life balance, commented: “Does work-life balance depend on where and you work? This is a question which I have often considered in my own work. However, today’s research by Citrix shows that there are clear differences between the regions, where the South in particular scores well. The study also highlights that those who have fewer or no children or are divorced or separated report better balance. These are concerning findings, and suggest that employers and the government need to up the stakes in supporting working families and dual earners. Companies need to wake up to the fact that juggling work and family are part of modern life, and provide assistance accordingly.”

Professor Linda McKie, professor of Sociology, University of Durham and associate director, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh, added: “The study demonstrates that where you work and what you work at matter. It also indicates that the nature of relationships matters. Are you caring for young or older relatives and friends? We all know that working and caring involves an inter-meshing of worlds and sometimes this proves stressful and dissatisfying. Experiences are also likely to be predicated on the type of job, level of pay and availability of support networks. These results link strongly with the economic data on the health of regional economies and it would seem that the world of work has a notable impact on many aspects of the lives of the worker and their family.”