Dutch Quirk #116: Have a great work-life balance

Life's not all about the 9-5.

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #116: Have a great work-life balance

You can call the Dutch out on many things, but you have to admit that they really know how to balance their work and social lives. 

In the Netherlands, full-time workers devote 64% of their day on average to leisure time and personal care, according to OECD.

This amounts to a total of 15.4 hours of non-work activities each day — heel rustig!

What is it?

Finding a balance between work and leisure can prove to be very challenging, especially when working starts to become your life! 🙄

From managing social activities to making time for your personal life, the Dutch pretty much excel at both

Indeed, long working hours can potentially really harm one’s personal health, increase their stress levels and put their safety at risk.

The Dutch know when to stop working, which is probably why they are so happy

Why do they do it?

For starters, the Dutch have a strong sense of community and care a lot about the people in their working environment. 🤝

But they’re also really good at setting clear boundaries between work and personal lives. 

It’s very normal to grab a drink with co-workers on a terrajse right after work, especially when the sun’s out ☀️— lekker biertje?

READ MORE |  What is borrelen? The Dutch art of going for a drink with co-workers

On top of that, the Dutch are social butterflies who love talking to each other about things other than work. 

Why is it quirky? 

The Dutch are big on flexibility. Though, this doesn’t mean that work hours are completely mishandled. Quite the opposite! 

The Working Hours Act (Arbeidstijdenwet) says that employers must record all hours worked by employees and have the ability to consult their working schedule. 

If we compare the Netherlands to other countries, the Dutch don’t give themselves too much work to do every day.

For example, the United States has really strict working schedules, which usually amount to a total of 60 hours! 

READ MORE | Vacation, free time and working hours in the Netherlands: all you need to know

In the Netherlands, flexible work is really common, which is great if you have irregular working hours. And, if you need a getaway but still have some work left to do, just go on a workation!

Should you join in? 

Absolutely! We can learn a lot from the Dutchies when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance between work life and your personal life. 

How has your work-life balance experience been in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2022, and was fully updated in January 2024 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea has a passion for writing and sharing new ideas with the world. She enjoys film photography, Wes Anderson movies, fictional books and jazz music. She came to the Netherlands in 2019 for her media studies and has fallen in love with the country and its culture ever since. She loves to ride her bicycle in the city but also feels the need to overtake everyone on the bike lane (she's working on it).


  1. Thats not true.
    The Netherlands is very N.Y in this aspect.
    If you live here you will soon realize that the majority of people work 12h a day (sometimes more), including staurday and sunday. While being severely underpaid.
    We live in the new middle ages.
    Only priviliged people (minority) can have leisure.

    • It’s sad that your personal experience is so different from what the majority of working people in the Netherlands experience.
      The Dutch rank high on global charts for being happy and content. They wouldn’t be there if living and working in the Netherlands is awful as you say it is or if only a small minority would enjoy living here.
      None of my friends, neighbors, acquaintances or family work 7 days a week and 12 hours per day. None of them work more than 40 hours per week and they all enjoy a good life.


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