World’s 10 Most Anxious Cities for Employees

Small Business Prices analyses the top countries around the world to reveal where employees are the most at risk of dealing with anxiety while working from home.

The last year has been a stressful one for many, resulting in a staggering increase in anxiety across the globe. This anxiety can take a major toll on the mental and physical health of several employees due to the stress and loneliness of working from home.

Small Business Prices analysed a number of cities around the world, looking at global happiness, how much of the population deals with depression, work-life balance, poverty levels and the cost of living to uncover where people are the most anxious about returning to normal life post-covid.

The 10 countries and cities where employees are the least anxious

Copenhagen in Denmark is revealed as the least anxious city for those employees working from home during the pandemic and also ranks top in terms of overall happiness. With only 6% of the population in poverty and an unemployment rate of only 6%, it offers confidence to employees in their careers, even during the pandemic.

Prague is the next least anxiety-prone city for employees working from home, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe of 3.1% and only 2.7% of the population battles with depression. Similarly, Zurich in Switzerland follows with a happiness ranking of 7.57 and the highest disposable income of £2323 per month.

Rank

Country

City

Population

Happiness

Population with Depression

Depression 2025 Estimate

Annual Working Hours

Population in Poverty

Unemployment Rate

Monthly Income

Monthly Cost of Living

Income/Cost of Living Difference

1

Denmark

Copenhagen

1,358,608

7.62

3.29%

2.91%

1400.38

6.10%

6.10%

£2,682.36

£2,388.17

294.19

2

Czech Republic

Prague

1,312,199

6.965

2.68%

2.55%

1776.16

6.10%

3.20%

£1,113.06

£1,370.71

-257.65

3

Switzerland

Zurich

1,407,572

7.571

3.71%

3.48%

1589.68

9.20%

5.10%

£5,103.64

£2,780.71

2322.93

4

Iceland

Reykjavik

122,853

7.554

3.36%

3.22%

1493.37

4.90%

7.20%

£2,289.98

£2,376.64

-86.66

5

Germany

Berlin

3,566,791

7.155

3.96%

3.95%

1353.89

10.40%

4.60%

£2,078.47

£1,671.99

406.48

6

Norway

Oslo

1,056,180

7.392

3.77%

3.46%

1417.47

8.40%

5.00%

£2,892.18

£2,400.39

491.79

7

Slovenia

Ljubljana

279,631

6.461

2.86%

2.62%

1655.09

7.50%

4.90%

£1,043.36

£1,371.35

-327.99

8

Slovakia

Bratislava

424,428

6.331

2.40%

2.34%

1745.23

7.70%

7.00%

£959.65

£1,266.50

-306.85

9

Netherlands

Amsterdam

1,157,519

7.464

4.03%

3.95%

1430.02

8.30%

3.60%

£2,589.97

£2,372.98

216.99

10

Austria

Vienna

1,944,910

7.268

3.26%

3.06%

1731.49

9.40%

5.70%

£1,945.01

£1,654.63

290.38

10 countries and cities where employees are the most anxious

On the other end of the spectrum, Cape Town in South Africa has some of the world’s most anxiety-prone employees. With a significant 26% of the population in poverty and an unemployment rate of 32%, it’s unsurprising that employees may be anxious about their current work situation.

Similarly, in Athens, the average employee works 2017 hours annually and has a low monthly income of only £712.93. Combined with the high living costs of £1253, it leaves them with little in terms of disposable income. In Istanbul, the monthly income equates to just £311.65 and the low happiness rating of 4.94, further highlighting why employees are more anxiety-prone in the city.

Rank

Country

City

Population

H and Istanappiness

Depression 2025 Estimate

Annual Working Hours

Population in Poverty

Unemployment Rate

Monthly Income

Monthly Cost of Living

Income/Cost of Living Difference

1

South Africa

Cape Town

4,709,990

4.956

3.72%

2209.09

26.60%

32.50%

£1,096.97

£1,116.98

-20.01

2

Greece

Athens

3,153,255

5.723

4.46%

2016.9

12.10%

15.80%

£712.93

£1,252.50

-539.57

3

Turkey

Istanbul

15,415,197

4.948

3.74%

1832

17.20%

12.70%

£311.65

£839.65

-528

4

Chile

Santiago

6,811,595

6.172

3.84%

1974

16.50%

12.30%

£494.09

£1,162.71

-668.62

5

Portugal

Lisbon

2,971,587

5.929

4.63%

1863.17

10.40%

7.20%

£895.14

£1,536.88

-641.74

6

United States

Boston

695,506

6.951

4.87%

1757.23

17.80%

6.20%

£3,757.01

£2,514.42

1242.59

7

United States

New York

8,230,290

6.951

4.87%

1757.23

17.80%

6.20%

£4,308.04

£2,716.07

1591.97

8

Russia

Moscow

12,593,252

5.477

3.62%

1974

12.70%

6.30%

£698.24

£1,012.24

-314

9

Latvia

Riga

627,763

6.032

3.19%

1874.6

17.50%

8.50%

£771.57

£1,185.56

-413.99

10

United States

Los Angeles

3,983,540

6.951

4.87%

1757.23

17.80%

6.20%

£3,525.64

£2,341.53

1184.11

The countries that will see the biggest increase in depression by 2025

The Covid-19 pandemic has been stressful across the globe but some cities have become more susceptible to mental health problems like depression than others. Brussels in Belgium is projected to have the largest increase in depression by 2025 where more than 4.39% of the population could experience it.

Comparatively, Oslo and Copenhagen will experience the lowest increase in depression in the upcoming years, with less than a 0.0031% increase in both cities. The high happiness ratings for both cities also further incentivises it as a popular choice for employees post-pandemic.

The importance of managing anxiety and taking care of our mental health

Anxiety is based on the flight, fight or freeze response, and our brains are hardwired – like a smoke alarm to keep us safe and protect us from harm. According to Positive Psychologist, Ruth Cooper-Dickson, “just as we saw panic buying in the early days of lockdown one, some people will be feeling hugely anxious about returning to another phase of ‘the new normal.”

Habits are developed through reinforcement and repetition which we find as we adapt to new routines, but now there is even more change to consider, especially as many organisations may be looking to adopt a more ‘hybrid approach’ to working where people are in the office only 2-3 days a week, rather than a full week in the office.

For many people who have gone from working full-time in the office to full-time working at home in a crisis, trying to navigate a hybrid working style could raise more anxiety for someone adjusting to a new routine.

Ruth Cooper-Dickson, Positive Psychologist, reveals the top ways that managers and leaders can manage employee anxiety while working from home

  1. Continue to provide wellbeing support as part of your role, utilise your coaching skills to actively listen, be empathetic and non-judgemental. Ensure the 1:1s are still in the diary which are non-work/performance-related.

  2. Reshare the communication on signposting to where employees can access mental health and wellbeing support if needed, such as the employee assistance provider (EAP), occupational health, intranet support etc.

  3. Continue to encourage ways to manage and alleviate the pressure of individuals self-care activities, such as taking regular breaks throughout the day, taking meeting walks, reducing screen time, resting and getting enough sleep.

  4. Show up and role model the right behaviours, for example, it is okay to log off on time, not be accessible on email 24/7 and blocking out time in the diary for lunch.

  5. Be aware that heading back into the office may cause anxiety for many people and you may see a change of energy within people and how they connect with others. Don’t assume everyone will be the same as they were pre-pandemic.

  6. Hybrid-working will create more nuances with building a cohesive team, so ensure everyone is part of and included in the group.

  7. A useful suggestion is to do a ‘practice run’ back into the office, to alleviate concerns about commuting if it has been some time.

  8. Remember, just as we had to adjust to being online in Zoom meetings, the energy needed to be face-to-face will be draining for many and it will take more adjustment, especially including travel time.

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