Are four-day workweeks the future? Several businesses have already made the switch, citing improved productivity, happier employees, better retention, and faster hiring. To attain a true four-day (32-hour) workweek, many organizations would have to (A) hire more talent to pick up the slack or (B) accept a less productive year. Neither choice would be useful, but there is a third option coming down the pike: artificial intelligence. AI will be able to improve productivity to the point where working hours can be feasibly reduced for any business, writesÂ Jonathan Crane, Chief Operating Officer at IPsoft.
Are four-day workweeks the future? Several businesses have already made the switch, citing improved productivity, happier employees, better retention, and faster hiring. The following two reasons have inspired numerous school districts to follow suit, which may set expectations for future generations of workers.
Not all weeks are created equal, however. It may not yet be possible for most businesses to shorten their workweeks without compromise. By eliminating one day of work, employers might be forced to increase their daily hours to make up for the lost time. This could lead to longer days before that vaunted three-day weekend finally arrives.
In order to attain a true four-day (32-hour) workweek, many organizations would have to (A) hire more talent to pick up the slack or (B) accept a less productive year. Neither choice would be terribly effective, but there is a third option coming down the pike: artificial intelligence.
The technology is heavily viewed as a job creatorOpens a new window , thanks to a growing number of new opportunities. AI specialist roles look to dominate 2020 as companies explore the potential of automation. It’s easy to see why â€“ tedious and highly repeatable tasks can now be handled by a machine, allowing individual staff to reserve their precious working hours for more critical projects. Long-term, AI could go even further, improving productivity to the point where working hours can be feasibly reduced for any business.
As much as 45% of work activities could be automated with existing technology, potentially saving employees 18 out of every 40 hours they work. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for a reduced workweek. Employers could choose to fill that time with new projects, objectives, or a cornucopia of emails and meetings. But doing so won’t improve recruitment or provide a better work-life balance.
Cynics might question how many businesses will use automation to reduce their workforce while expecting the remaining employees to work a full 40-hour week, and some companies might be tempted to do that. AI is a powerful tool, but it cannot provide the level of critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovating that an individual staff brings to employers. AI doesn’t have a body and cannot express the human emotions that make one-on-one relationships so meaningful. It is a fantastic technology that can handle mundane tasks automatically, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But AI’s value proposition is different from that of a human. They are best suited to work together, side-by-side, not one versus the other.
Getting Better with Time
Four-day workweeks are still in their infancy, so the full benefits have yet to be realized. But some companies are already bragging about the impactful results they have personally experienced, which could serve as a case study for others.
AI can help by taking care of the time-consuming tasks that frequently strain productivity, such as resolving user tech issues or automating parts of production management. The technology has been useful in helping cybersecurity professionals detect and deter security intrusions, and it has become an increasingly popular tool for marketers looking to target specific demographics. Call centers have also taken advantage of AI, allowing it to handle many inquiries automatically. And it will only get better with time, mainly as machine learning improves upon its ability to learn, grow, and better understand the tasks it needs to perform.
As a man and machine inch closer together, enterprises will realize efficiencies that could not have been attained with humans or AI alone. When technology is capable of handling a significant volume of tasks, businesses will then be free to shorten their workweeks on a larger scale.
They could instead choose to follow Parkinson’s LawOpens a new window , maintain the five-day schedule, and allow work to expand to â€œfill the time available for its completion.â€ But that would not serve employers or employees, who already have strong opinions about the work environment. To attract the talent of the future, today’s businesses will need to accommodate their needs, whether that involves more paid time off, schedule flexibility, or a shorter workweek.
A New Era of Employment
The old saying â€œwork smarter, not harderâ€ has new meaning in the age of artificial intelligence. With the potential to ease employees’ existing workloads while maintaining the same level of output, this could be the technology that ushers in an entirely new era of employment. Work that was once viewed as boring, tiring, or utterly uninteresting can be handed off to AI, while humans complete the most exciting and demanding parts of a job. It’s a win-win situation that will, at the very least, make work more enjoyable. And at it could open the door to a lifetime of three-day weekends.