CNET article here on the reduction in hours worked per week at software development companies. So I have an opinion on this (I know, shocking, isn't it?) that was not explored in the article. Many people who are putting in the big hours are doing so out of choice (in the article, there's a guy who canceled his ski weekend...sounds like that was his choice and one he regrets). When I first started here, there were many nights where I was here until nine or ten at night. This was because I was excited to be here, I was getting cool stuff done, I loved my clients (microsoft.com...I'll tell you about a job they have open later today). And it was totally my choice! Yeah, that is what happens when you hire passionate people...they are often passionate about exactly what they are working on. Did my manager love that I was staying here late and working my butt off? What do you think?
It is a rare manager that will walk by your office at 6 PM and say "the work day is over, you need to go home now". It's nice if they do, but I've rarely had managers that even cared what hours I worked. At Microsoft, I come and go as I please...sometimes I go shopping in the middle of the day or take a long lunch and run errands. I can do that because I don't have specific "work hours". If I take some personal time in the middle of the day, I make it up. As long as the job gets done, it doesn't really matter what hours I worked. So nobody needs to be alarmed if they see me online at 8PM. It may simply mean that there was a sale at Nordstrom that I couldn't pass up.
I also don't think that there's anything *wrong* with someone that wants to work more than 40 hours a week. When I am loving what I am doing, it's easy for me to work a 50 hour week (sometimes more, if I choose). We are all grown-ups here that can make their own choices.
So, I hope that what is driving the reduction in work hours is employee choice and increased worker efficiency.