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Work-Life City – topos 122

Theresa Ramisch

Our current topos-magazine deals with work-life balance. Read more about our latest issue in the editorial.

Cover Photo: City of Gold Coast via Unsplash




Everyone is talking about the work-life balance generation. In the battle for talent, companies today have to offer more than ever before. But how and where can this work-life balance really be created and lived? What does the future metropolis look like that could offer this and many coming generations a balance between work and private life?

Less work, but more time for family, friends and leisure. These days, many people look for a good balance between work and life. Or in other words: a better quality of life all around. In this topos we discuss how metropolitan areas can support the work-life balance of their residents – and why this is also a key responsibility of the metropolis. Get a free preview of the current issue of topos here.

Balance is key

Mindfulness, meditation, social detox – finding a balance in everyday life, between work, family, friends, sports and smartphone, seems to have become the most important asset for many – especially younger – people. Several studies confirm that a supposedly “good” work-life balance is now actually particularly important for many people – for example, more important than their salary. The new target of self-optimization, malicious tongues might think.

Work-Life balance is a luxury

Less work, but more time for family, friends and leisure. Or in other words: a better quality of life all around. Most people probably wouldn’t say ‘no’ to that. If that’s possible. Because ultimately, it is a luxury, the balance between life and work. Who can afford to work a four-day week, but only get paid for four days? Very few. Work-life balance is reserved for an elite group. To which I must count myself. And you, presumably, too. Even if only about ten to 20 percent of the world’s population can afford to work actively on their work-life balance, it is already visible everywhere in our cities. You tell me: Have there ever been more yoga studios? Life coaches? Feel good managers? I would say ‘no.’

Cities make people sick

Nonetheless, cities or urban structures can also help support the daily balance of all city dwellers, support their quality of life. Regardless of their income or wealth. This is precisely what must be the goal of public welfare-oriented urban planning. And it is also necessary: According to a Swedish study of 4.4 million people, residents of densely populated areas – in contrast to people in rural areas – have a 68 to 77 percent higher risk of developing a psychosomatic illness and a 12 to 20 percent higher risk of depression. The research field of neurourban studies is still quite young and small, but we already know: cities make people sick. Physically and mentally.

Seven crucial topics for a good work-life balance

So how can metropolitan areas support the work-life balance of their residents (and by that I mean everyone)? We discuss no less than that in this topos issue. Based on our research, we have defined seven topics that are crucial for a better quality of life in a city: one’s income (dollar bill y’all), the available recreational facilities (yes, there are some things money can’t buy), whether a city is family-friendly (or rather what that actually means), whether it offers social security (and why everyone suffers from FOMO), how to get around (bye bye traffic jams), how to live (hi one-bedroom apartment) and finally what the opportunities for work are now after the pandemic (did you know that Australia is known to be the best place for digital nomads?). Our objective is to analyze what is important in our cities, but above all what is possible.

A personal topic with no easy solution

Of course, when it comes to work-life balance, each of us needs something different. Even if cities have long since started the race for the highest quality of life or work-life balance. With such a personal topic, there can be no general easy solutions. But to get an understanding of how diverse these life realities can be, we introduce you to three extraordinary people and their perspectives on living and working in a city. Enjoy reading.

Get the topos 122 – Work-Life-City – here.

Our previous topos issue examines the topic of security in metropolises – a challenge that concerns us all. Read more about topos 121 – “urban security” in the editorial.

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