Today's overachieving professionals labor longer, take on more responsibility, and earn more than the workaholics of yore. They hold what Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce call "extreme jobs", which entail workweeks of 60 or more hours and have at least five of 10 characteristics, such as tight deadlines and lots of travel. In this article, the authors consider the shape and scope of such jobs in relation to increasing competitive pressures, vastly improved communication technology, cultural shifts, and other sweeping changes that have made high-stakes employment more prominent. What emerges is a complex picture of the all-consuming career: rewarding in many ways, but not without danger to individuals and to society.
From the December 2006 issue of Harvard Business Review.