This concept of working longer as opposed to working smarter has probably been around longer than I have but I first experienced it in a major way when I was working in high tech during the bubble. If you were not still at the office at 8pm on a Friday night you were a slacker. As a mother of a toddler, this was frustrating for me, I enjoyed my career and I certainly was ambitious and trying to claw my way up the corporate ladder but it was heartbreaking for me to only see my child when he was asleep. Adding insult to injury was the fact that there were not actually 60 -80 hours of work per week...for anyone. But we all stuck around and compromised our family lives in order to let everyone know we were ever so busy, and therefore very important and indispensable to the organization. I would inwardly fume about it, but played the game.
And then my whole outlook changed because of the attitude of one Vice President. This VP was a no nonsense, ball busting female who had succeeded in a man's world, I was slightly terrified of her. As was the generally accepted practice, a last minute meeting was called for 5pm. No one would dare not attend, including me, who had promised to pick up my child and spend time with him. I scrabbled to rearrange daycare pick up, called in favours and managed to get my butt in a chair around the boardroom table, along with the rest of the management team. The meeting began and in hindsight, it was a joke, the issues were not important, this was simply another opportunity to be seen as industrious and important. And then, it happened, the event that changed my outlook, my priorities and my behaviour. 20 minutes into this useless meeting, the female VP started gathering her stuff and stood up, the CFO looked at her in horror and said, where are YOU going? And she said, "I am going home to spend time with my kids, this meeting is totally unnecessary", and she walked out. This incident, as brief as it was, changed the way I approached my career. She worked smart...and she was damn good at what she did. More importantly, she called BS on the concept of working longer.
In any case, I wish I had written Tim's post...because regardless of how I now approach my work day, there are plenty of others who still subscribe to the work longer mentality and it is not healthy nor well advised. And, hey...here is the thing...it doesn't make you a better employee but it certainly compromises the other areas of your life. Is it worth it?