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Barcelona, Toronto, Beijing named best ‘workcation’ cities in new study

BusinessBarcelona, Toronto, Beijing named best ‘workcation’ cities in new study

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Working while traveling has exploded with the popularity of remote and hybrid work. If you want to take a “workcation,” Barcelona may just be the ideal destination.

That’s according to IWG, a flexible workplace company, which compared 26 cities around the world, grading them on a scale of 1 to 10 for the following categories: 

  • Climate
  • Culture
  • Accommodation
  • Transport
  • Food and drink
  • Happiness
  • Broadband speed
  • Availability of flexible workspace

“The categories were chosen to consider the optimal environment for working abroad including basic livability requirements,” said Darren Rogers, IWG Singapore’s country manager. 

“There are also factors that can impact productivity, such as broadband and the availability of flexible workspaces.”

Barcelona, renowned for its vibrant cultural scene and almost year-round sunshine, came up on top for those “seeking the perfect blend of work and leisure,” said IWG. 

The demand for hybrid working 'will prevail' in a recession, IWG CEO says

IWG also conducted a survey among more than 1,000 hybrid workers, which found that almost three in five (57%) took workcations in the past year — where they extended holidays by working from abroad. 

“The horizons of today’s workers are no longer confined to their own countries,” added Rogers.

“We have seen that employees across the globe really value the opportunity to be able to extend their holidays with workcations and in return, employers are benefitting too, with highly-engaged, happy and productive teams.”

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Singapore scored highest for broadband speed (9) followed by New York (8.5) and Hong Kong (8).

Singapore is ranked 21st on the list, with high scores in other categories like happiness and transport. 

“Singapore is also Asia’s top financial hub, and the cosmopolitan city houses the world’s best airport, which is often seen as a gateway destination to easily access the rest of Asia, including Southeast Asia,” said IWG. 

Barcelona and Toronto — the top two cities — registered particularly strong scores in broadband speed and accommodation prices.

Top 10 cities for workcations:

  1. Barcelona
  2. Toronto
  3. Beijing
  4. Milan
  5. New York
  6. Rio De Janeiro
  7. Amsterdam
  8. Paris
  9. Jakarta
  10. Lisbon

For example, the average rent per month in Barcelona costs $1,158 and $1,769 for Toronto — compared to New York’s $3,632 — the most expensive on the list. 

The ‘allure’ of Barcelona 

Barcelona’s allure also lies in its “unique combination of sun, sea, sand and cosmopolitan atmosphere,” said IWG.

According to the study, the Spanish city scored well for the cost of transport and has “relatively low cost of living” compared to other popular European cities.

A cup of coffee in Barcelona costs $2.68 on average, compared to $4.92 for Los Angeles and $4.57 for Beijing, IWG added. 

Other than relatively affordable accommodation, Toronto also boasts high scores in happiness and “a wealth of flexible workspaces,” said the study.

“Canada’s largest city offers a diverse experience for digital nomads, with over 25% of the city covered in forests and an impressive 18% dedicated to parks, providing ample green spaces for relaxation amidst the bustling urban setting,” the study showed. 

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Spain and Canada introduced new digital nomad programs last year, appealing to working professionals who can perform their jobs anywhere. 

Rounding up the top three is the Chinese capital of Beijing, also the best Asian city for workcations. It “performed exceptionally well” in categories like culture, accommodation, and transport costs, said IWG. 

The city has a total of 1,484 galleries and museums — the second highest on the list behind New York. Rent costs an average of $1,204 a month, according to the study.  

“The city’s world-class art scene, with numerous galleries and cultural venues, offers a remarkable experience for travelers looking for a glimpse into China’s rich heritage and contemporary innovation,” said IWG. 

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