Think tank study | AI to make a third of UK workforce switch to 4-day week by 2033

AI to make a third of UK workforce switch to 4-day week by 2033

Artificial intelligence is likely to make nearly a third of the UK workforce switch to a four-day week within the next ten years, a new study from the think tank Autonomy has revealed.

In the report titled GPT-4 (Day Week), its authors say that roughly 8.8million UK workers, around 28% of the British workforce, could reduce their 44-hour week to a 32-hour working week by 2023.

This is because of the expected productivity gains this powerful technology is likely to bestow on society, freeing up a significant number of tasks, and therefore time, for employees across a variety of industries.

“Our research offers a fresh perspective in debates around how AI can be utilised for good,” said Will Stronge, the director of research at Autonomy. “A shorter working week is the most tangible way of ensuring that AI delivers benefits to workers as well as companies. If AI is to be implemented fairly across the economy, it should usher in a new era of four-day working weeks for all.”

The paper says this AI-aided shift is largely caused by the augmentation of roles, which will see the integration of AI into jobs, and a policy that reduces working hours could help governments bypass widespread unemployment and a wellbeing crisis.

The study also reveals that a further 88 percent of the UK’s workforce, which equates to 27.9million workers, could have their hours reduced by at least 10 percent through the introduction of large language models (LLMs).

London, Elmbridge and Wokingham are the areas in the UK most likely to include those workers with a four-day week.

“This study tries to show that when the technology is deployed to its full potential, but the purpose of the technology is shifted, it can not only improve work practices, but also improve work-life balance," continued Stronge.

“What I think would be really impressive would be a robust AI industrial strategy, with automation hubs where trade unions, industry and experts in this tech get together to say: ‘We’re going to boost productivity, and this is also going to be something which delivers for the workers.’”

Increasing flexibility whilst keeping productivity

This study points to the pace at which the working world is likely to change in a shorter period of time than we might have initially thought. Ronni Zehavi, CEO and Co-Founder of HiBob commented: "As the world of work changes, Autonomy’s survey results don’t surprise me. For a long time, I’ve thought that my children will never work a five-day week – especially not a 9 to 5 in the office. Layer on AI tools and it will only become easier for companies to increase flexible working while maintaining productivity.

Looking for more

"For employers, as the trend builds momentum, it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to flexibility. Alongside the 30% working a four-day week, there will be 70% working in different hours and patterns. The key is remembering each employee is different. We’re all humans and have lives outside of work that demand our attention, and employers that will succeed in attracting and retaining talent will recognise those demands and take a compassionate and understanding approach to working preferences. The 9 to 5 is dying, and I’d say, it’s for the better. We’re fast approaching a truly flexible future of work."

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