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Work–life balance

Read what four people have to say about their working hours to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.

Reading text


I work in a fairly traditional office environment doing a typical nine-to-five job. I like my job, but it's annoying that my commute to work takes an hour and a half each way and most of my work could really be done online from home. But my boss doesn't seem to trust that we will get any work done if left to our own devices, and everyone in the company has to clock in and out every day. It's frustrating that they feel the need to monitor what we do so closely instead of judging us based on our task performance, like most companies do these days.


I used to do a typical five-day week, but after I came out of my maternity leave, I decided that I wanted to spend more time with my children before they start school. After negotiating with my boss, we decided to cut my working week down to a three-day work week. This of course meant a significant cut in my pay too, as I'm paid on a pro-rata basis. I've since noticed, though, that my workload hasn't decreased in the slightest! I'm now doing five days' worth of work in three days, but getting paid much less for it! I find myself having to take work home just so that I can meet the deadlines. It's wearing me out trying to juggle work with looking after my children and my family, but I don’t dare to bring this up with my boss because I think he feels as if he's made a huge concession letting me come in only three days a week.


I work for a global IT company, but because their headquarters is in the States, I do all my work online from home. That means that I don't waste time commuting or making idle chit-chat with colleagues. I work on a project basis, and this flexibility is very valuable to me because it means that I can easily take some time off when my children need me to go to their school performances or if I need to schedule an appointment with the dentist. The downside is that without clear office hours, I tend to work well into the evening, sometimes skipping dinner to finish a task. It can also get quite lonely working on my own, and I sometimes miss sharing ideas with colleagues.


I'm a freelancer and work for myself. This is great because I am in control of what I do and how I spend my time. At first, I was working from home, but I found it really hard to concentrate. There were just too many distractions around: housework that needed doing, another cup of tea, my family members wanting my attention for various things. So I started to go to a nearby café to work, but the Wi-Fi connection wasn't ideal and I found myself drinking too much coffee. In the end, I decided to rent a desk in a co-working space with five other freelancers like myself. I liked getting dressed to go to work in the morning and being able to focus in an office environment. The other freelancers do similar kinds of web-based work to me and so it's nice to have workmates to bounce ideas off as well.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


Working in an office could be great. While working, you can interact with your colleages, making your social life a little bit interesting.

In my case, my job does not have a schedule, some days you work in the evening, others in the morning...even at night! But I really love my job, being a big part of my life. I enjoy too much working with my colleages, some of them are my best friends.

Pros (advantages)
*Good team work
*Adequately equipped

Cons (disadvantages)
*No breaks
*2 Long shifts/working hours
*Low pay
*Limited staffing
Given an opportunity to make changes, I will ensure that there is adequate staffing so that employees get to have their breaks. Tackling staffing issues will automatically bring about a change in the number of shifts from 2 to 3 and consequently sustain productivity and prevent burnout.

The advantages of home office are avoid the commute time and have more time for self improvement activities. The disadvantages are to find a good place for work and maintain the balance between personal and professional roles.

The advantage include creativity and the disadvantage include distraction. I would create room for conductive working conditions.

Currently, I'm working on a road transport company. At the first time, I founded the difficulties to manage my time, I was

I work for a seafood restaurant as a waitress in the heart of Amsterdam central. My English in the beginning wasn’t in a high level so I had to secure funding and unfortunately this job doesn’t meet my needs. My shift is only in the afternoon so I have the opportunity to sleep more during of morning’ s hours but unfortunately that is the only good notice that I have to say for this job.
First of all speaking for myself, I am an extrovert person, so afternoon shifts don’t help me to have social life, most of my friends work during in the morning hours.
In addition I studied in my country business planning and that kind of job doesn’t give me the equal to develop my skills and my capabilities.
Also doesn’t help me to evolve ideas because the most exciting assignment that I can do is to sell fish in numerous rich people, so I have only handwork and I can’t devise ideas.
On the other side my manager announced few days ago that my next contract will be not expanded after July because it didn’t pre-approved from my founder. So in this case in Holland I can have a golden opportunity to looking for the job that could be meet my needs.
I hope that I will leap the chance.

I am working in a finance department. The office hour is very stable. I seldom need to work overtime. It is an advantage for me as I can take care of my family. My workmates are very nice and friendly. These two are the main reasons why I can work in the same company for a long period of time.

Some people say 'life-work balance" instead of "work-life balance". Which is which??

Hi Rafaela1

I think I've always seen or heard 'work-life' and that is what the Wikipedia has. I just did an internet search for both combinations and saw many more results for 'work-life', so I would recommend going with that form.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

I work reasonable flexible-ish hours at my job. I like it a lot but I would much prefer if I had my own desk. Sharing a desck with colleague especially when they move around a lot and are messy is driving me insane. I'm an introvert and it doesn't bother me being around people but not like that.