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Remote workers are happier and healthier than in-office counterparts, survey finds

Aug 18, 2023
Preston Wickersham


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Office workers are experiencing higher levels of burnout — and lower levels of happiness and job satisfaction — than their remote counterparts.

The Global Work-Life Survey, created in partnership by Remote, the Future Workforce Alliance, and IE Business School, asked workers in multiple industries across the globe about their experiences working in different environments. The researchers found that 41% of in-office personnel are experiencing burnout, compared to 26% of remote workers.

In addition, 65% of remote workers said they were “extremely satisfied” with their jobs, compared to just 34% of office-based employees.

According to Ben Marks, co-founder of the Future Workforce Alliance, the study disproves the claims of many business leaders, who are calling for workers to return to the office.

Jump straight to a key chapter

“We’re repeatedly being told that being in the office is good for our wellbeing, as it is a clear separator between home life and work,” he says. “Yet these findings indicate that this isn’t the case.”

The study also found that remote workers are generally happier than their in-office counterparts: when asked to rate their happiness level out of 10, 42% of remote workers rated themselves as ‘8’ or above, compared to just 21% of office workers.

For Marks — also the founder and executive director of the #WorkAnywhere Campaign — this isn’t a surprise. “Remote working enables a true life-work balance, making for happier employees.”

Establishing boundaries

Of the survey’s 1,000 respondents in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, researchers identified four “categories” of worker, based on their approach to work-life balance:

  • “Work warriors” (15%)

  • Separators (45%)

  • Integrators (14%)

  • Family guardians (26%)

When working remotely, separators reported experiencing the least burnout. They were able to fully focus during work hours, complete their tasks, and fully switch off on evenings and weekends. Conversely, integrators struggled to find a separation between life and work — and experienced the most burnout.

For Filipa Matos, co-founder of the Future Workforce Alliance and VP of Special Operations at Remote, this highlights the importance of establishing clear work-life boundaries — wherever employees are working from.

“While remote workers are clearly the happiest according to our research, it’s important that workers establish healthy boundaries to capture the benefits of remote working,” she explains. “This might mean creating a physical separation from work at the end of the day, establishing healthy morning rituals, or pausing notifications when not working.”

This isn’t just a one-way street, Matos adds. “Employers must also implement policies to support balance for their teams, such as no-contact policies outside of working hours and not tracking employees’ time and activities.”

Dr. Kriti Jain of IE Business School — which conducted the study — says the results challenge long-held assumptions about the benefits of office work.

“These findings should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers,” she says. “They highlight an urgent need to reconsider traditional workplace models, and prioritize mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s crucial that we embrace innovative solutions to foster a healthier and more fulfilling work environment for all.”

To see more of the findings — and gain more insights into modern work-life balance trends — check out the full study.

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