Vox pop

Patricia Hewitt this week said Britain is a nation of workaholics and a survey of 400 professionals shows that workers are reluctant to embrace flexible working hours, for fear it harms their chances of promotion. What is your view? How do you achieve a satisfactory work/life balance and how do you encourage your staff to do the same?

‘This talk of working too hard is nonsense. The design industry has traditionally shown other professions what it takes to get the job done. We all work the hours that the job needs (staff as well as directors) and we don’t complain. If flexible working hours will allow us to work harder and more effectively then I’m all for it.’

Tony Howard, Director, Roundel

‘Largely the people running the company are responsible for the demands made on their staff and you get the best out of people when they enjoy and feel rewarded by what they do. At Factory, we aim to be as flexible as possible, but try for a regular nine-to-six working day. However, the odd late one always sets up a buzz in the studio – which in our business is no bad thing.’

Adam White, Co-director, Factory

‘As a business, we have to be about delivering 120 per cent client service and sometimes that means pretty unsociable working hours. If our clients were to move to a more flexible approach then we might be able to do so too, but until then, not a hope. We also work in an obsessive, passionate industry not the most natural partner to a part-time approach.’

Jane Simmonds, Chief executive officer, Fitch London

‘Patricia Hewitt might have a point. We work in an industry where pride takes centre stage and it is this one defining reason we work ourselves into the ground in order to do the very best we can. There is no doubt that achieving the ideal work/life balance is tricky, but by setting expectations it is possible to achieve this without damaging client or colleague relations, and, more importantly, the quality of the work we do.’

James Acton, Head of design, Poulter Partners

‘I would love to have an option. However, being a realist, in a service-oriented industry, delivering results to tight timeframes is our business. With mouths to feed and mortgages to pay, there’s really very few options. It’s a big bad world out there. The secret is getting the balance right and hoping for more enlightened times and more respect for what we do for British business.’

Richard Bissland, Joint managing director, 999 Design

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