“Lunch is for wimps”
It’s very easy to cave in to a culture where everyone is expected to contribute 20, 30 or even 50 percent more hours than they are paid for. I haven’t yet encountered an established company where anyone but the owners were happy to do this. But people just seem to shrug their shoulders and essentially say, “That’s just how it is around here …”

Expectations will be built on the precedents you set in the first few weeks and months in a job – and that is when most people, still on probation, are happy to work long hours in order to show maximum enthusiasm. Think very, very carefully about how you handle this. For example, I have had clients working past midnight while they were learning the ropes, but making a point of leaving the office at a civilised hour and crunching the extra stuff at home. That way, when they cut back their working day to a more family-friendly level, no one in the office realised.

In one of my early jobs, I had to work 60-70 hour weeks for the first months to get up to speed and to keep my head above water. When I started going home a 7.30 instead of 9.00, my boss’s reaction was, “So you’re keeping bankers hours now are you?”

Check out a wonderful view on this at Corporate Gitmo over at Eclecticity.