Global Life-Work Survey 2023


Welcome to the first-ever edition of our Global Life-Work Survey, an exploration of the evolving landscape of working arrangements and the impact on workers’ wellbeing.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the so-called "Great Resignation" of 2021, organizations find themselves confronted with a new challenge: the "Great Resistance". Employees, having experienced the benefits of remote work, are now voicing their opposition to a return to traditional office-based policies.

While the popularity of remote work and flexible working in general is not surprising, given their powerful advantages for individuals and society, concerns have emerged about the potential blurring of boundaries between work and personal life. As a result, there is now a growing emphasis on establishing policies that respect employees' right to disconnect, allowing them to maintain a healthy life-work balance.

Against this backdrop, our research aims to shed light on the optimal conditions for different working arrangements. We delve into the question of who benefits most from these models, when they prove most effective, and how organizations can create environments that enhance wellbeing. Through this report, we aim to provide actionable insights to workers, business leaders and policymakers seeking to navigate the changing landscape of work.

The study

  • 1000 participants (55% female).
  • Average age: 35 ; Average work experience: 12 years.
  • Global (Europe = 610 ; Africa = 235; US/CA = 72, LatAm = 42, Asia = 30).
  • Top industries: Tech, Service Industry (Healthcare, Education), Public Administration.
  • Work arrangements:
    - 36% office.
    - 40% remote.
    - 24% hybrid.
  • 81% of jobs provide the option to work remotely even in a limited manner.
  • 62% had the option to choose where they worked from. 


1. Remote workers exhibit higher job satisfaction, experience burnout symptoms less frequently, and, overall, report greater levels of happiness compared to hybrid and office workers.

2. Drawing upon previous research, we focus on 4 life-work management style behaviours: "Work Warriors", "Separators", "Integrators", and "Family Guardians".

3. Even those who identify as Separators (they have clear boundaries between work and personal life) demonstrate increased happiness and reduced burnout symptoms while working remotely, challenging the notion that office attendance is a prerequisite for achieving separation.

4. Work Warriors and Integrators have a higher tendency to let work interrupt their life – something that can be more problematic when working remotely. We feature recommendations from our healthiest respondents on how they can better protect themselves.

Across different measures we found that remote workers score better than hybrid and office workers when it comes to their job satisfaction. Respondents replied to a series of items that assessed how strongly they agreed with statements about them being satisfied with their job (1= strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree).
Additionally, we also took a closer look at burnout symptoms. We asked participants to reflect on the past 4 weeks and to indicate across 3 items how often they were experiencing signs of burnout (e.g., feeling used up at the end of the workday or emotionally drained from work). This was assessed on a 5-point scale, where 1 = never, 2 = sometimes, 3 = regularly, 4 = often, and 5 = always. 

For both measures we found that remote workers were most satisfied with their job and experiencing burnout less frequently, while office workers were the least satisfied and experienced burnout most often. 

Taking an even closer look at the burnout data, 41% of office workers indicated that they experienced burnout signs regularly to often (scored an average of 3 or higher out of the 5-pt scale), while the same was true for only 26% of remote workers.

We also asked respondents to take all things together and rate on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = not at all; 10 = extremely) how happy they were. The average score for remote workers was 6.38, while, for office workers, it was 5.94. When looking at how many respondents indicated at least 8 out of 10 for happiness, we found that only 21% of office workers were that happy taking everything into consideration, while 42% (double the amount) of remote workers reported this level of happiness.

Not surprisingly, after seeing those results, we find that when asked whether one would recommend their job to a good friend, 74% of remote workers somewhat to strongly agreed, while only 56% of office workers said they would. 

We also asked all participants to reflect on whether in the last 3 months they had taken a break/vacation from work. This was a simple yes-no question, and while 69% of remote workers had taken a break, only 52% of office workers had. 

While significant differences were found for all the measures indicated above, it is important to note that no differences were found in the extent to which respondents had a stable and healthy relationship with their family. Additionally, it is important to note that there is no significant difference between the work arrangements in the number of hours worked. 

Why remote?

Top choices to work remotely: saving time and money, plus greater life-work balance.


  • Life-Work Balance.
  • Avoid Commute.
  • Productivity.
  • Saving Money.


  • Life-Work Balance.
  • Avoid Commute.
  • Save Money.
  • Productivity. 


  • Productivity.
  • Life-Work Separation.
  • Social Connection.
  • Office Space.
Types of boundary management

Based on previous work on boundary management, we adapted the work of Kossek et al., (2012) in order to identify four key clusters, or, styles of life-work boundary management. By exploring these distinct worker types, organizations can glean essential knowledge to tailor their practices and policies to suit the unique needs of their workforce.

These four key clusters were created using two dimensions based on the "non-work interrupting work behaviours" scale and the "work interrupting non-work behaviours" scale (Kossek et al., 2012).

Examples for non-work interrupting work behaviours include:

- I take care of personal or family needs during work.

- I respond to personal communications (e.g., emails, texts, and phone calls) during work.

- I think about my family, friends, or personal interests while working so I can focus.

- I handle personal or family responsibilities during work. 

- I monitor personal-related communications (e.g., emails, texts, and phone calls) when I am working.

Examples for work interrupting non-work behaviours include:

- I regularly do work during ‘non-work’ hours.

- I respond to work-related communications (e.g.,  emails, texts, and phone calls) during my personal time away from work.

- I work during my vacations.

- I allow work to interrupt me when I spend time with my family or friends.

- I usually bring work materials with me when I attend personal or family activities.

The four styles of life-work boundary management are: Work Warriors, Family Guardians, Separators, and Integrators. 

Life-Work Management Styles:
Work Behaviors

Work Warriors (15% of our sample)

  • Significantly more work hours (M=51 hours).
  • Second lowest tendency to take a vacation (53% had taken a vacation in the last 3 months).
  • When working from the office, work warriors have the lowest subjective wellbeing (happiness) and lowest job satisfaction as opposed to remote or hybrid work warriors.

“I maintain an active calendar for all personal and work events and use it to plan my day. This is shared with my family so that they are aware of when I am working.”

The Separators (45% of our sample)

  • Work 40 hours per week on average.
  • Second highest tendency to take a vacation (61% had taken a vacation in the last 3 months).
  • Comparing work arrangements, separators do even better when working remotely than from the office. They have significantly less burnout, higher job satisfaction, more vacation days and overall are happier. 

“For me, it's CRUCIAL that I come into my office with the door closed and work for most of the day. This signals to me that it's time to work, and the family knows that when my door is closed, they should respect that boundary. It's also important to me that I get up early, shower and get dressed and put on makeup, walk the kids to school, and come back feeling camera-ready (whether I have Zoom meetings or not). Doesn't matter to me if other people are in pajamas or not, but that doesn't work for me.” 

The Integrators (14% of our sample)

  • Work 43 hours per week on average.
  • Lowest tendency to take a vacation (50% had taken a vacation in the last 3 months).
  • Comparing work arrangements for only integrators, we find that they largely score the same no matter where they work from. The exception is job satisfaction (most satisfied with their job when working remotely, but hybrid and office score the same).

“I do try not to separate it, never worked for me. I try to optimize and achieve a balance which means sometimes “home” interrupts traditional work hours and at other times, I work during traditional “home hours” or on say weekends.”

Family Guardians (26% of our sample)

  • Work 39 hours per week on average.
  • Overall, out of all types, they take the most vacation days (driven by the remote family guardians).
  • Comparing work arrangements, family guardians thrive more when working remotely. They experience less burnout symptoms and higher job satisfaction.  

“I do not log in to work accounts on personal devices. I also disconnect 30 min earlier than EOD, to not carry work thoughts.”

Life-Work Management Styles: Health

When comparing the four different styles of life-work management within work arrangements, we find that there are differences when it comes to health and burnout, but only for remote workers. Overall, for remote workers, the health is worst for integrators, closely followed by work warriors, and these two types also suffer more from burnout. 

How can the remote working integrators protect themselves better? 

Our biggest motivation for conducting this research was to give workers the tools they need to balance their lives and jobs in a healthy and productive way. And who better to learn from than the healthiest and happiest participants? We asked them if they had any advice on how to create effective life-work boundaries, and then we grouped the responses into four key areas:

01 Physical Separation
02 Rituals
03 Technology
04 Time Management

Advice from our healthiest participants

Physical Separation

01 "I go to a co-working space or even to a coffee shop for dedicated work time."
- a healthy remote family guardian

02 "Separate work space away from main living spaces where family live happens & decluttered spaces." 
- a healthy remote work warrior

03 "I leave my laptop at the office when I will be working in the office the following day. I close my home office door at the end of my WFH day." 
- a healthy hybrid separator 

04 "There is also a separate work space for when I am working from home. I won't use it any other time." 
a healthy hybrid integrator 


01 "Stick to a morning routine (breakfast, workouts, sleep hygiene)."
- a healthy remote family guardian

02 "I have a routine for week days and weekends."
- a healthy office work warrior

03 "Even though I work from home, I dress as if I was going to an office. This helps getting into "work mode" and activated efficiency." 
- a healthy hybrid separator

04 "Rituals to close and begin with the work day (e.g. starting with daily to-do list and ending with meditation)." 
- a healthy remote integrator 


01 "Pause notifications after 5pm."
- a healthy office family guardian

02 "I don't have any work related software on my phone. So I don't get emails in the middle of the night etc."
- a healthy remote work warrior

03 "I've installed productivity apps in my phone and laptop to avoid distractions during work."
- a healthy hybrid separator

04 "I don't answer emails or Slack when I'm not working and do work on a separate laptop."
- a healthy remote integrator 

Time Management

01 "Clear structure of my day. Specific hour for lunch break, pilates etc but I also enjoy having the flexibility to randomly go for a walk whenever I feel like it since I am at home." 
- a healthy remote family guardian

02 "Select a specific amount of time during the day (2 or 3 hours) to deal with work out of the work hours."
- a healthy office work warrior

03 "Working in blocks in your calendar, switching tasks if the time is up (no matter the output)."
- a healthy hybrid separator

04 "Calendar blocking."
- a healthy remote integrator 


Remote workers happier and healthier than office workers:

Remote workers scored significantly lower on burnout levels, and had subjective wellbeing (overall happiness), higher job satisfaction and more vacation days.

Even for separators, who like boundaries, offices are not needed to thrive:
Separators have significantly less burnout, higher job satisfaction and higher wellbeing when working remotely as opposed to in the office. 

Out of all remote workers, keep an eye on the integrators:

Looking at only the remote working respondents, we find that the integrators experience the most health problems.

Recommendations for workers

If you can craft your own work arrangements, here are some suggestions:

1) Overall, working remotely, or at least hybrid, seems to be the best option to decrease burnout risks and increase job satisfaction, wellbeing and vacation time.

2) Think about your needs & how those needs can be fulfilled (note: you can achieve life-work separation even when working remotely).

3) If you tend towards integrating (having your life interrupt your work, and your work interrupt your life) and you work remotely, keep an eye on your health. Integrating remote workers kept healthy via rituals, some degree of physical separation, having an intentional relationship with technology, and managing their time. 


Our findings indicate that remote working, in general, emerges as the most favorable option when considering wellbeing metrics such as happiness, burnout levels, and job satisfaction. This is especially true for individuals who lean towards maintaining clear boundaries between work and life, challenging long-held assumptions that physical offices are required to provide this separator.

However, integrators and work warriors, who have a tendency to integrate work and their personal lives, do not seem to derive as much benefit from remote working as separators and family guardians. This highlights a need to develop additional support systems for remote workers who require life-work integration, such as many parents and carers.

As we move forward, it is our hope that the insights gained from the Global Life-Work Survey will guide the development of inclusive policies and practices that foster healthier workplaces. By prioritizing the needs of individuals and cultivating supportive work environments, we can unlock the full potential of the workforce and build a future of work that actually works for everyone.

Meet the researchers

Dr. Kriti Jain
IE Business School
Dr. Kriti Jain is a professor at IE Business School. She’s a leading management expert and works with global business leaders and policymakers on topics of responsible leadership,  strategic decision-making,  and organizational transformation.  Her research has been published in leading science and management journals including, Management Science, Harvard Business Review, Human Resource Management, Journal of Behavioral  Ethics, and Journal of Operations Management. Kriti has received several prestigious grants from the European Union and the US for her research work.
Carlina Conrad
IE Business School
Carlina Conrad is a doctoral candidate in Organizational Behavior at IE Business School. Her research has been published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior (JOB) and presented at leading conferences such as AOM, SJDM, EURAM, and at IACM where she received the Early Career Scholars Award. She instructs leadership courses for undergraduates, executives, and investors. Her industry experience includes roles at Chanel and SPARK Neuro, and significant contributions as Co-Founder of OneWonder, Chief of Staff at NEXUS, and advisor to entrepreneurial startups.
Copyright © 2023, #workanywhere.
All rights reserved.