AI could shorten work week to four days within decade – for some

Same pay, longer weekends? That could be a reality as soon as 2033 – at least for those working in the more affluent areas of the US and the UK, according to a new report.

A quarter of the workforce in the US and the UK could move to a four-day work week within a decade thanks to the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), a study from Autonomy, a think-tank, claims.

The latest AI technology could lead to shorter working hours without the sacrifice of productivity or pay, it says. In the US, 35 million workers could expect a four-day workweek by 2033, and 8.8 million in the UK.

Should AI tools be introduced into workplaces and used as the basis for increased free time for employees, 71% of the US labor market – or about 128 million workers – could have working hours reduced by at least 10%, according to the think tank.

The number is even higher in the UK, at 88%, or about 27.9 million workers.

The areas with the highest proportion of employees who could work four-day weeks within the decade are mostly prosperous, knowledge-based economies.

In the UK, those are exclusively concentrated in the capital, London, and the well-to-do South East region. The City of London, the country’s financial hub, leads the way, with over half of its workforce potentially eligible for an AI-driven four-day week within 10 years.

Boston, in Lincolnshire, one of Britain’s poorest towns, is at the other end of the spectrum, with a four-day workweek possible for just over 15% of its workforce.

In the US, the District of Columbia stands out, with more than 40% of its workforce potentially enjoying a shorter workweek within a decade, followed by Massachusetts and Utah, both at over 30%.

At just over 20%, Nevada, Alaska, and Wyoming are at the bottom of the list.

However, all workers could benefit from shorter working hours if governments and private companies embrace AI, according to the report.

“If AI is to be implemented fairly across the economy, it should usher in a new era of four-day working weeks for all,” Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said.

He also said: “A shorter working week is the most tangible way of ensuring that AI delivers benefits to workers as well as companies.”

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