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Flexible working hours

THE QUESTION

A civil servant has become the first man in Whitehall to be offered family friendly hours. He does not leave for work until after he has had breakfast with his children, he gets home before their bedtime and can work from home on school assembly day. What changes to conditions would make your working life more bearable?

The demands made by the Whitehall employee are surely not overly onerous? Good luck to him, and let's hope we see more of this modern thinking. Whether the dinosaur dominated civil engineering world could cope with these changes is another matter.

Having worked in people friendly environments for most of my working life, I have not had a problem maintaining a balance. I have chosen jobs that allow me to do this, and would not consider a job that involved long hours or working away for long periods. You can always say no to unreasonable demands and standing up to these is often more beneficial in the long term. Your employer needs you as much as you need him or her, and there is usually somewhere else to go if the job is not right. As long as you do all that is required of you, the hours in which you do it should be flexibile.

Dave Cooper, service performance manager, Ipswich If you want a Whitehall office job, then join the civil service - or any similarly organised public sector organisation. If you want a satisfying career in engineering, then join a contractor or consultant. The job will involve working unfriendly hours - sometimes. The job will involve working away from home or moving home - sometimes. The job will involve working at weekends - sometimes. Many people in other jobs also work long hours, weekends and travel away from home. They thrive on it and their families accept it as part of what they choose to do. Choose your career with your eyes open and get on with it. If you want a civil servant's life, get one.

Geoff Home, 52, director, North Yorkshire I'd propose a friendlier environment within the office, coupled with the expertise of a feng shui expert to harmonise and balance the decor.

With the boredom that exists in some workplaces, why not wallspace for the stressed to express themselves? And TVs to cover the impending World Cup in Japan and Korea would attract a large audience which otherwise may not materialise for work at all. But the likely reaction from my employer if I did propose this? I think they would wish me good luck in my next position.

Henry Smith, project engineer, Northants If employees can be flexible and work extra hours to meet deadlines, then their employers should be flexible enough to allow them time off when they need it.

Neil McCulloch, 26, graduate engineer, Glasgow With the advent of affordable broadband internet connections, most of the work I do I could do from home. Of course, one drawback would be that you lose contact with the banter and camaraderie that makes team working rewarding. Finding that balance between family and work is, as always, difficult.

Michael Woods, 36, engineer, Edinburgh

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