Work Life Balance

The Prime Minister and I have something in common: we both want to live close to where we work.

If you ask us, the state of FM radio doesn't help either

So as Julia Gillard decamps to the outer suburbs of Sydney this week, I’m heading the other direction, moving to an apartment in the city. I’m ditching the car and walking to work from Monday.

Phew. No more traffic. No more tailgaters. No more erratic driving from increasingly irate and desperate fellow commuters.

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  • Wayne says:

    06:45pm | 04/03/13

    Sam, your analysis is completely wrong. All the money and more is currently spoken for, so where is the spare going to come from to repay the borrowings and interest? The way we are going we will never pay it back, and if we don’t control the ever increasing spending,… Read more »

  • Blackadder says:

    05:32pm | 04/03/13

    Not necessarily free, but afforadable. As I’ll continue to campaign vigorously here in QLD, it’s cheaper to drive than to use public transport. Government policy should be to make a journey from A to B more affordable than using a vehicle, as enticement to get people off the roads onto… Read more »


As our television screens start filling with the sounds of Christmas films, a real-life, modern day version of the classic tale A Christmas Carol is playing out in State Parliament.

In the NSW Parliamentary version of this tale the role of Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Premier Barry O’Farrell, with supporting roles played by a host of big retailers.

In keeping with the original version of the story, our Scrooges seem to be out to do one thing - ruin Christmas. Their cunning plan? Open all shops on Boxing Day so workers and their families across NSW miss out on the tradition of Christmas.

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  • Jo says:

    06:38pm | 13/11/12

    Sounds like a lot of good job opportunities for Muslims, Jews, Hindus, non-Christians etc ... Read more »

  • marley says:

    06:15pm | 13/11/12

    @AB - nope, when I’m lying on my deathbed I’m going to think wasn’t it nice to be able to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.  Not all of us have brothers or sons or nephews playing cricket in the driveway.  Some of us… Read more »


The short-term fix of Olympic glory aside, Essential’s weekly poll suggests Australia is a pretty miserable place right now. We may be living in one of the most prosperous societies in history, but we aren’t happy with how our own lives are travelling.

Oops, no time to rub my face. Now I'll be late to pick up the kids.

The majority of us say we are either struggling or just coping financially; we are worried about losing our jobs and expect our personal situation to deteriorate over the next 12 months.

We actively dislike our elected leaders, both PM and Opposition are disapproved by about two thirds of us. We have have not only lost faith in government in most of our public institutions – the public service, the High Court, the Reserve Bank, business, unions, the media, even religion.

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  • Louise says:

    06:34pm | 31/07/12

    Until we realize the truth of this point of view, no one will stop scheduling breakfast meetings, weekend conferences etc. Even not so early/late starts/finishes eat into personal time when a trip through the morning traffic is at least an hour for the people who bought 20 minutes away!  Add… Read more »

  • Chris says:

    03:18pm | 31/07/12

    Well figure this out… we moved to Asia and have a full time driver, a full time live in ya ya and a full time executive assistant. I work full time and the wife works three days a week… and the crazy thing is we have never been busier… I… Read more »


Spending hours sorting mail and doing the coffee run might have been seen as perfectly appropriate tasks for the office junior in the past, but this new lot of Generation Y employees seem to be more educated, more tech savvy and won’t mind telling you to shove your old school pecking order.

The Gen Ys meet to crunch the June quarter budget figures

A recent CISCO workplace survey targeting Generation Y young professionals and university students in 14 countries, including Australia, found that 52 per cent of Australians surveyed indicated that they would, ‘sacrifice the extra salary for the opportunity to work wherever they’re most productive and happiest’.

Unlike the previous working generations who are not too eager to change jobs let alone careers, members of Generation Y seem to embrace change and feel more empowered in the workforce. They don’t perceive their jobs as a lifetime commitment that pays the bills. Instead many of them strive to secure jobs in line with their desired lifestyle.

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  • Smacka says:

    11:06pm | 26/07/12

    Money can’t buy happiness but it’s nice to be miserable in comfort Read more »

  • marley says:

    08:31am | 26/07/12

    @andye - didn’t stop Gen X from voting for those wars either.  Why lay all the blame on the boomers? Read more »


Played Yahtzee with the big kid over Weet Bix yesterday morning. Hopped an 8am train across town for an extra-curricular thing I do each Wednesday, trained it back to the city for a few hours of work, then nicked off early for my little kid’s footy training at 5.

No dice… you're wrong if you reckon your boss thinks you a slacker. Now go home and play with the kids.

Sunday nights, I do a few hours from the home shed to make up for my sketchy Wednesdays. And without numbing you further with the soporific minutiae of my weekly timetable, my point is that flexible working hours are good. They don’t necessarily work for nurses or teachers or farmers with crops to harvest and cows to milk, but they’re a godsend for many office workers.

Yesterday in The Daily Telegraph, reporter Lisa Power wrote an interesting story. She interviewed the author of a book about daddyom, who said that almost half of dads who work flexible hours fear being perceived as not committed to their work. Well, you know what I say to that? I say screw that theory and let’s go play mini golf.

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  • Loddlaen says:

    03:06pm | 08/06/12

    @MotherR - I was also talking about those small microwave bags. And it shows your personality flaws that you feel the need to resort to a cheap shot. Read more »

  • Gregg says:

    11:01am | 08/06/12

    Bloody unreal, thought there was something wrong with the computer I had to scroll so far to get past! Read more »


Senator Mark Arbib, the Minister for Sport, has inexplicably resigned just months before he would have received free tickets to the London Olympics.

Do I know you? You're who? Ohhhh, you're my family. Yeah I remember you guys. Sort of. Pic: Ray Strange

Citing the need to spend more time with his family, the faceless, hairless Labor powerbroker is now a jobless, faceless, hairless former Labor powerbroker.

Given the Australian male life expectancy is now almost 80, Arbib statistically speaking would appear to be having some kind of midlife reassessment. But should we we call it a crisis?

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  • John says:

    04:32pm | 28/02/12

    @Ryan John Howard is without a doubt the worst Prime Minister this country has ever had the misfortune of enduring. Read more »

  • Graeme says:

    02:20pm | 28/02/12

    Not really, the follicles just migrate to less appropriate sites, aesthetically speaking.  Years of constant grooming of nostrils, ears, backs and moister parts lay ahead of him. Read more »


Today is national Go Home On Time Day.

Everybody do this at 5pm today, if not earlier.

In a classic Looney Tunes cartoon of the 1950s, Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog would clock on at the same time every day at the sheep meadow. When their shift ended, Ralph would stop trying to abduct Sam’s precious sheep and they would both clock off again. Their work done for the day, Ralph and Sam would exchange pleasant chit chat and trot home.

If this kind of thing seems quaint today, perhaps it is because the boundaries between work and life are increasingly blurred. Many of us don’t only do our jobs, we are our jobs – regardless of what time it is or where we happen to be.

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  • Damian Parkhill says:

    09:17pm | 30/11/11

    @Occam’s Blunt Razor “If you are dumb enough to let yourself get treated like any of those examples that is your call.  There are plenty of no win no fee lawyers who would back you to the hilt if any of those stories are exactlyhow you describe them” Or you… Read more »

  • Occam's Blunt Razor says:

    04:34pm | 30/11/11

    I just had to laugh . . .“The Australia Institute”! Shouldn’t we be having National Hair Shirt Day? Read more »


Hear us. Trust us. Reward us.

A friend first, a boss second, entertainer third

That’s the simple plea from white collar Australia in response to a simple question: How would you get your workplace working better?

Over at we’ve been running what we somewhat exuberantly called the New Work Project survey. In the few weeks it’s been running, we’ve received 25,000 submissions from all corners of the country and in all walks of life.

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  • Utopia Boy says:

    02:42pm | 02/11/11

    @ Kipling - thank you for your time in applying for the position. The reason you didn’t get the job is because you seem to think you have rights to everything. I can see you starting as the office boy and thinking you can solve all the business problems we… Read more »

  • palone says:

    07:47pm | 20/10/11

    Utopia boy. You are not supposed to employ a worker who doesn’t shave, (that’s horrible), doesn’t iron his shirt, (grub!), and then still gets pregnant at the office xmas party. What a strange business you are in. Apparently you have no problems with him/her getting “familiar” with you ‘inside’ of… Read more »


ACTU President Ged Kearney announced at the National Press Club the results of a poll of union members grandiosely labelled “The Census”. And she also talked about it yesterday on The Punch. But far from being an impartial look at the Australian workplace, the ACTU’s census is nothing but a narrow poll of self-selected participants.
Australians being productive. Pic: Mark Evans

The headlines shouted “Australian workers productive but stressed”. The findings to emerge from The Census included that respondents were working longer, finding it difficult to get by on their income, delaying dental treatment and were contacted about work outside of work hours. An overwhelming majority supported unions campaigning for better pay and conditions of workers.

The Census survey methodology is instructive.

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  • Kipling says:

    06:43am | 21/09/11

    Regardless of what he might say, I reckon he would be saying it from a picket line…. There is one of the single major differences between the (mostly) now deceased generation of workers and the modern workforce. Back in the day the workers would unite to protect each other, rather… Read more »

  • Utopia Boy says:

    09:43pm | 20/09/11

    Defeating your own argument that the stats were manipulated, by manipulating your own stats is hardly fair reporting. What is the real story? That stats can be manipulated to show the result an organisation wants? Or is it to try and persuade us we are working less, even though we… Read more »


This morning news was that pollies are complaining they’re overworked. Tory said they should harden up. Here, Evan Williams says we’re being rough on our leaders.
Kenny's got it all right. Photo: Troy Bendeich

Pollies should whinge. Their work is perhaps not as physically disturbing as a sewerage plant, but surely it is more emotionally and intellectually destructive.

If you make a minuscule mistake at a sewerage plant, the punitive measure that follows would probably be a ‘shit happens’ pun from your boss. Conversely, if you make a similarly low-level mistake in public life, the punitive measure that follows is nationwide scorn and ridicule.

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  • Edward James says:

    04:39pm | 29/05/11

    @ Anthony Meaney. There are so few actual party members in the two parties not much preferred, they are hardly representative of the masses. Yet it is this minority which imposes its political constraints on the population. I do try to encourage voters to pursue their elected representatives in public… Read more »

  • Edward James says:

    04:12pm | 29/05/11

    What has ceased to surprise me Bruce, is the number of politicians party members and their supporters who can go dumb when confronted with the truth about systemic corruption involving politicians generally. It is not limited to the two parties not much preferred Greens and Independents are just as guilty.… Read more »


Our politicians need our help. They’re overworked.

According to, Federal politicians “who ride in taxpayer-financed cars to board taxpayer-financed flights to get to work, say a tight schedule and winter fog is forcing them to leave their families early and forgo functions in electorates to fly to Canberra on Sunday evenings”.

They also suffer in their jocks with dismal pay, appalling superannuation, and disgusting Parliamentary offices. And their bosses are nitpicking bastards.

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  • mbt udsalg says:

    12:01pm | 02/11/12

    I in addition to my pals were actually viewing the best key points found on your site then at once I got a horrible feeling I had not thanked the site owner for those tips. These young boys appeared to be joyful to study them and have simply been taking… Read more »

  • Joan says:

    12:40pm | 27/05/11

    Too right, Ryan. Tell her she’s dreamin’. Read more »


In another study from the University of Obvious Research Findings, research out today finds people are increasingly working away from the office.

The scene in a typical Australian home. Pic: File

And it’s perhaps it’s even more predictable given that the survey was commissioned by Telstra. Surprise! Telecommunications technology is all the rage says a study - from a telecommunications technology company.

Although once you get past saying “well, duh” and grab your pinch of salt, some details in the findings might just twitch your eyebrow. It says a quarter of Australian workers are spending five hours working outside of the workplace each week, and 15 per cent are doing it 10 hours a week. These are pretty significant numbers and signal a real shift in the nature of Australian work. The question is whether a society of always-on workers is a Good Thing.

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  • Bernadette says:

    01:25pm | 20/10/10

    Working from home is what you have described, it is as simple as at 7 O’clock work comes first home comes second then 8 hours later switch back to home comes first and work second. Read more »

  • Bernadette says:

    01:19pm | 20/10/10

    I agree completely, I work from home, I start at a set time and finish at a set time, I work specific shifts each week and when I finish I turn my equipment off. I used to work 6 night shifts a fortnight and was very time poor. Now I… Read more »


I make no apology for being lazy. If there’s a corner, I’ll cut it. If there’s a fast way, I’ll find it. If there is a reason not to do something, I’ll find it, use it and then flog it until it’s a mere paste.

I don’t reinvent wheels. I don’t like to do something twice. Tautology is not my thing, except when I’m trying to make a point.  So I don’t understand workaholics. I don’t get how someone can get up at 6am, dress, eat and go to work for 14 hours, not break for lunch or a walk around the block, go home, defrost something and sit down at the dining table to start working again, only getting up to put on Lateline.

That is not a balanced life.

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  • business online says:

    07:11am | 29/12/10

    Beneficial info and excellent design you got here! I want to thank you for sharing your ideas and putting the time into the stuff you publish! Great work! Read more »

  • geophysics says:

    01:10pm | 22/07/10

    Rudd was a (top) bureaucrat but not a leader. “I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Most often two of these qualities come together. The officers who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Those who are… Read more »


A few years ago there was a funny little survey funded by fruitgrowers which spoke volumes about the relationship between men and women, particularly on the vexed question of domestic chores.

A pensive Lynne Kosky at her last press conference of 2009, under pressure over the Melbourne ticketing system.

The survey found that the overwhelming majority of men refused to eat fruit, but said they would be prepared to eat fruit if someone could peel it, cut it into small pieces and hand it to them on a plate.

The survey has at its centre a kind of male patheticness which many blokes seem to regard as endearing, and which most women probably cannot stand.

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  • hmmm says:

    02:44pm | 22/01/10

    DG, you’re right that housework is a domestic issue.  I do not believe however we just make a choice to not do housework, or to do housework.  There are bare minimums as to what is expected when it comes to basic hygiene in the house.  I have seen on countless… Read more »

  • DG says:

    02:33pm | 22/01/10

    AMEN! Read more »


In a speech last month, our outspoken Treasury Secretary Ken Henry referred to the hitherto unknown but enticingly-titled “Treasury well being framework” as a measure of determining what is best for families and working parents.

Some people have an old-fashioned view of what it means to stay home with the kids.

Wow ! After years as the ultimate BBQ stopper-conversation, maybe the esteemed boffins at Treasury stumbled upon the elusive answer to the work/life balance question?

I looked forward to reading the magic formula and seeing how I measured up.

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  • jayne says:

    09:53pm | 03/02/10

    I have been trying to find a job for 2yrs with the socalled employment agency they are hopeless best to go yourself to look. I still havent a job. I am a single decent person and find it so hard financially I am 13,000 in debt as my children want… Read more »

  • Helen says:

    12:12pm | 20/10/09

    I am a bit with Woody Allen on this one - when it comes to raising children I adopt the “Whatever it takes appraoch” Ummm.. better not go there! O_o Read more »


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