In a global economy, employers seek greater flexibility as they adapt their businesses to meet challenges such as increasing competition, rising costs, new technologies and consumer demand. Many workers also seek an element of flexibility, not least as they endeavour to balance their work and family life. At the same time, both sides need a certain degree of employment security in order to manage their companies and quality of life. The traditional linear life phases of education, work and retirement have become more fluid in a changing work environment. Taking a long-term perspective over the life course can help employees to coordinate their working time in closer harmony with family responsibilities or lifelong learning. Companies can also benefit, for example by offering a facility such as a working time account to facilitate busy or quiet production periods.