AI implementation has the potential to shorten workweek for 30% of employees

Artificial intelligence has the potential to facilitate a shift to a four-day workweek for millions of workers by 2033, as per a recent study focusing on British and American workforces.

The Autonomy think-tank’s report suggests that the expected productivity gains from AI implementation could lead to a reduction in the working week from 40 to 32 hours for around 28% of the workforce, translating to 8.8 million individuals in Britain and 35 million in the US, while maintaining their compensation and performance levels.

According to the study, this transition could occur by integrating large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT into workplaces to complement workers’ roles, consequently creating more leisure time. Autonomy suggests that such a policy could also prevent widespread unemployment and alleviate mental and physical health issues.

Will Stronge, Autonomy’s research director, highlighted, “Too many studies of AI, large language models, and so on, solely focus on either profitability or a jobs apocalypse. 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.”

The research indicates that in Great Britain, nearly 88% of the workforce, roughly 28 million workers, could witness a reduction in working hours by at least 10% through the incorporation of LLMs. The think-tank identifies local authorities such as City of London, Elmbridge, and Wokingham as having the highest potential, with 38% or more of the workforce likely to reduce their hours in the coming decade.

A corresponding study conducted in the US by Autonomy suggests that within the same time-frame, 35 million American workers could potentially shift to a four-day workweek. It indicates that 128 million workers, constituting 71% of the workforce, could see a reduction in their working hours by at least 10%. States like Massachusetts, Utah, and Washington are identified as having the potential for a quarter or more of their workforce to adopt a four-day week through LLMs.

Congressman Mark Takano, who has introduced a bill advocating for a 32-hour work week in the US Congress, emphasized the necessity of governmental action in ensuring that efficiency gains from AI and automation benefit all workers, regardless of their industry or skill level.

Autonomy urges both public- and private-sector employers in the UK and the US to capitalize on the opportunity presented by workplace AI. They stress the potential to enhance the lives of hundreds of millions of workers and call upon policymakers to take proactive measures.

Stronge suggested, “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.’”

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