I work for a consultancy, which means that the workload varies hugely because each individual client will bring you ad-hoc projects which you need to do to their schedule, rather than asking them if they'd mind until you've cleared another client's work off your desk.
This means that very very occasionally I have very little on my plate, and a lot of the time I am juggling multiple projects on very different issues on tight deadlines, while still having to complete certain daily, weekly and monthly tasks supporting my colleagues. (For example, I check a large number of websites and compile a summary email of relevant developments every day).
This is to some extent the nature of the sector, but the level of work we handle is also a reflection of the company in general and my boss in particular. My boss works crazy hours - 11pm on a Friday and 6am on a Saturday - and gets frustrated when I'm not immediately responsive. It should be noted also that senior staff are paid by the hour, while I get paid until 5.36 pm and every minute past that is unremunerated.
I think we have very different ideas of a normal workload in this sense - I am happy to muck in on a weekend if a completely unforeseeable crisis arises and we have to do damage control, but not on a regular basis or a matter of routine. I enjoy (most of) my work but I also enjoy time at home, and I need time to unwind, destress and switch off in order to carry on juggling the next day without dropping any of the balls.
I think in many ways we (society in general, not just my company) need to change things around. The goal should not be working until 11pm, but that all team members are stretched, challenged, envigorated and then sent home at a reasonable hour. Whether through taking on more staff or changing how the work is handled, the goal should be for everyone to leave at 5.30 or at the latest 6. When I leave at 6.30 I always feel I have to apologise to my colleagues for leaving so early, even though I know that working late means I don't sleep well and then work much slower the next day.
I don't want to have to choose between a fulfilling and challenging career, and being able to be home in time to eat dinner with my boyfriend, and do a little knitting. Why do they have to conflict, why is there a tension? And this is without having children - I can well imagine that being a far more frustrating part of life to be conflicting with workload.
I would like to see companies reward and incentivise employees who can manage their workload effectively within a shorter working day, rather than creating a culture that normalises long hours and effectively penalises employees who leave earlier.