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NatWest IPB Quality of Life Report

Technology Breeds Creativity

Technology Breeds Creativity reveals Global Study from NatWest International Personal Banking

  • Innovation generation: 51% of British expats feel technology encourages innovation and creativity
  • Rise of technology: 93% of British expats believe technology has improved the quality of their working life
  • Necess-IT-ies: 79% of British expats say technology is ‘essential’ to their productivity at work
  • Expert expats: 77% of British expats consider themselves either very or reasonably proficient in the use of information technology
  • Working remotely: On average, 67% of British expats have some form of flexible working arrangement with their employer

Over three quarters (76%) of British expats believe technology helps create productive working conditions, whilst half (51%) say it encourages innovation and creativity, according to the latest NatWest International Personal Banking (NatWest IPB) Quality of Life Report. All respondents said technology is important to their productivity at work with almost four in five (79%) declaring it as ‘essential’ and over one in five (21%) stating it is ‘quite important’.

Over nine in ten British expats (93%) say they enjoy a better working life as a direct result of using technology with 94% claiming it improves efficiency in the workplace, and over eight in ten (86%) saying it saves them time. A large proportion of those surveyed (82%) believe it creates mobility in their working life, whilst 67% feel it allows them to enjoy flexible working. Additionally, more than half (57%) claim that they depend on technology to communicate with colleagues and clients in other countries, whilst 92% say it has reduced the extent to which they need to travel.

The key improvements technology has on British expats’ work life:

Improvement %
Improves efficiency at work 94
Saves time 86
Creates mobility 82
Improves communication 78
Secures data at the workplace 78
Creates productive working conditions 76
Allows for flexible working 67
Encourages innovation and creativity 51
Boosts workplace relationships 41
Improves on human resource management 37

Source: Centre for Future Studies

There are numerous ways in which technology has enhanced the working lives of British expats. Our Quality of Life Report shows that expats can now experience a more efficient, productive and flexible working day as well as being able to communicate more effectively with colleagues and clients abroad. For example, services such as video conferencing allow employees who work away from their colleagues, to interact with their team in a much more engaging and collaborative way, despite the distance between them.

Keyboard confident

It’s clear amongst British expats that relying on their English-language abilities to secure employment abroad simply isn’t enough anymore as IT skills are climbing employers’ list of priorities. A large portion (77%) of British expats are therefore familiarising themselves with IT, with a fifth (19%) considering themselves to be ‘very proficient’ in the use of information communications technology and over half (58%) ‘reasonably proficient’. However, this assessment varies between countries with Singapore having the largest percentage of proficient expats compared to South Africa which has the least.

British expats who consider themselves to be proficient users of IT

Rank Country %
1. Singapore 86
2. USA 84
3. Canada 82
4. Hong Kong 80
5. Australia 79
6. New Zealand 78
7. UAE 76
8. France 74
9. Portugal 73
10. Spain 71
11. China 70
12. South Africa 68

Source: Centre for Future Studies

Libra lifestyle

On average, 67% of British expats have some form of flexible working arrangement - either in terms of remote working or flexi time - which allows them to more effectively maintain a healthy work/life balance. It is therefore unsurprising that those countries that have facilitated this and have a larger number of expats with flexible working arrangements, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, also rank within the top five countries in the Quality of Life Index 2013.

British expats in each country who have some form of flexible working arrangement:

Rank Country %
1. Australia 85
2. New Zealand 79
3. USA 78
4. Canada 76
5. France 74
6. Portugal 72
7. Spain 70
8. South Africa 63
9. Hong Kong 58
10. China 53
11. UAE 48
12. Singapore 47

Source: Centre for Future Studies

Dave Isley, Head of NatWest International Personal Banking, comments:

It is clear that technology has transformed the working lives of British expats. It has made juggling different roles and responsibilities much more feasible as individuals who before had to balance being at the office all day with doing school runs, parents/teacher evenings, sports days, etc. can now fulfill both their professional and personal responsibilities simultaneously.

For many, achieving a healthy work-life balance is an essential part of maintaining a good quality of life, and could be the deciding factor between choosing to move to one country over another. So it's encouraging to see that more and more employers around the world are embracing this and making flexible working arrangements with their workforce. The companies that can provide the tools and culture to enable individuals to make time for personal commitments during the working day, will reap the rewards when it comes to attracting and retaining the best employees.

NatWest IPB Quality of Life Report

Case studies available on request

The ‘Quality of Life’ study was carried out for NatWest International Personal Banking by the Centre for Future Studies between April and May 2013.

The study rated expats’ lives abroad based on assessments of lifestyle indicators such as availability of consumer goods, entertainment, food, law enforcement, public transport, sanitation, housing, public services, leisure and culture, schools and education, financial confidence, healthcare provision, retirement facilities, weather, financial factors and the natural environment.

Respondents to the 2013 Index were emailed invitations to participate and respondents were also recruited through notices on expat websites. Based on the responses obtained, the 2013 Quality of Life Index’ was prepared. The survey was conducted at, the online research arm of the Centre for Future Studies which identifies and measures attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and opinions among consumers.

A separate survey was undertaken among British expats living in retirement to explore their perceived quality of life; their lifestyles; their health and financial well being; and expectations for the future.

Unless referenced all statistics are from the survey.

NatWest IPB Quality of Life Report

Further information

For further information please contact:

Valentina Kristensen, Lansons Communications on 0207 566 972 or

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