Civil Service employees are not alone in having commitments outside work such as caring for children, other caring responsibilities, voluntary work or studying for qualifications. While the self-employed and small business owners traditionally had more flexibility in when and where they work, government employees can now apply for flexible working hours through the FWH scheme.Finding the right work/life balance is beneficial for the employee, clearly, but certain flexible working policies have been proven to increase productivity and efficiency. The Flexible Working Hours (FWH) scheme has been implemented within the civil service to help employees manage their personal commitments, providing that the changes do not affect the level of service. This clause may prevent all employees from receiving these benefits when work priorities and colleague sick days need covered.Practically, reports show that many managers experience problems when they try to put work life balance policies into practice. This results in inconsistencies within and between departments, and accusations of lip service management. Up until recently many central government initiatives have been ad hoc or partial implementations only of the scheme. However, employees with care responsibilities have a legal right to ask for flexible working and each department has a process through which this request can take form. Staff with children under the age of 6, and disabled children up to the age of 18 have the formal right to request flexible working under the Government’s Work and Parents: Competitiveness and Choice Regulations on flexible working.Various working patterns are available and include part-time job sharing, hour compression or staggering and home working. The case studies show a range of developing smart practices. Some of these, such as the DVLA and Northern Ireland civil service focus very much on a modernised office environment that encompasses forms of desk-sharing for a more mobile workforce, while others such as the Ofsted case study look at more radical change where government employees are mostly based at home. If staff would like to take advantage of the FWH scheme, the first port of call is the immediate superior manager. Improvements to technology over recent years, such as remote access, mean that employees can work from home one or more days a week.Funding for shared purchase of equipment is available and for those who cannot incorporate an office at home, the garden or back yard may be the site for a temporary home office. Affordable garden offices are thankfully available in Northern Ireland now, so the need to pay extra delivery costs to ship the purchase across the water from mainland UK no longer applies. This development will facilitate many more home-workers, both government and non-government, to benefit from flexible home working in a dedicated, detached space.A representative has been quoted forecasting the scheme as, “the most imaginative and far-reaching scenario planning… the future world of work won’t find us unprepared.”The new approach aims to achieve up to £1.5bn in efficiency savings annually by 2013. I deduce that the largest savings will come about from relinquishing rental of office premises and the energy expenditure therein, in favour of home working either within employees’ homes or in their dedicated garden offices.