My company has flex time and, to some extent, comp time, as determined by the employee within reason. So, if I work 9 today and 7 tomorrow, that's OK. Nobody cares, much less notices. Just don't skip any meetings or miss too many important deadlines.
This, however, is far from the norm.
As a (reasonably) high paid professional, all too often companies assume that that means you're willing and able to work an absolute minimum of 40 a week, with 45-50 often times being the norm. And I think employees, perhaps motivated by some sense of guilt, often times work those hours without complaint. I say bullshit.
I'm a high paid professional because I'm good and I know stuff. My (reasonably) high pay is because of what I know and the skills I have. Not the hours I'm willing to keep. Working 40 a week, and not 10 minutes more, is first-and-foremost something the employee has to strive for. Employers will get the hint eventually.
But this seems to be a uniquely U.S. phenomena. Many areas of the world (Italy springs to mind) have a great deal more respect for leisure time then we do here. There is an innate understanding that life is to be lived and enjoyed, not worked. In the U.S. the emphasis seems to be on money money money. You're considered successful if you're pulling in $100K a year, regardless of the hours you worked to get it.
Well, what the fuck good is $100K a year if you don't give yourself the time to enjoy it? I'm always amused by people who save up all their "enjoying life" time for vacation. What? You gonna pack a whole year's worth of "enjoying life" into a two week jaunt to the Caribbean? Good luck with that.
I say we in the U.S. ought to ditch our puritanical work ethic already and slow down a bit and enjoy life a little more.
Maybe the current economic downtown will give some of us an opportunity to do just that!