The rapid advance of artificial intelligence could lead to an easier schedule for American workers and give them an extra day off every week.
“In the current state, AI is a powerful productivity tool that automates routine tasks primarily for white-collar workers,” Christopher Alexander, the chief analytics officer of Pioneer Development Group, told Fox News Digital. “AI tools can edit and clarify internal communications, like emails or white papers, and can greatly speed up general research. A project I worked with found a 30% increase in productivity when using our AI capability, and that would align pretty well with a four-day week.”
Alexander’s comments come after a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. businesses found companies that make extensive use of AI are twice as likely to be open to a four-day work week than companies who have never used the technology, according to a report from Tech.co.
While some companies have been toying with the benefits of a shorter work week and producing trials that laud the benefits of better work-life balance, AI could accelerate that path across many career fields. According to the results of the survey, 93% of companies that make AI a regular part of their business function are already considering a move to a four-day work week, while only 7% of those companies are unsure if they will.
Meanwhile, 41% of companies where AI is not being used in their workplace indicated they would be open to the four-day work week, and 21% said they were unsure.
Experts seemingly agree that AI could help achieve a shorter work week, noting the technology’s ability to carry out many tasks that typically consume many human hours.
“AI can bring about a four-day work week because, if implemented correctly, it can reduce the time needed to perform complex tasks,” Samuel Mangold-Lenett, a staff editor at The Federalist, told Fox News Digital. “It simply can process information so much faster than people can, and as such, can decrease the amount of time spent on conducting research, sifting through reports and other similar tasks. For the time being, AI won’t do your job for you, but it can make it easier and faster.”
“The benefit of AI isn’t always in direct application … but in automation tasks and other process drudgery that detracts from core work,” Chase Reid, the CEO of Mutable, told Fox News Digital. “More important than implementation, however, is rethinking firm economics in light of these productivity improvements. Does an hourly billing model still make sense?”
Ziven Havens, the policy director of the Bull Moose Project, agreed that AI presents the ability to benefit businesses with the speed at which it can carry out complex tasks, saving time and increasing productivity in a way that could lead to a shorter work week. But that productivity also opens the door to potential labor disruptions, Havens told Fox News Digital.
“My concern comes later. If AI improves enough to replace workers completely, will entire sectors be at risk of mass unemployment?” Havens said. “While these tools are still improving, Congress should be working to think about how to lessen the blow that could occur.”
There are also questions about who the technology will benefit, with Alexander arguing that white-collar professionals will be the most likely to see a shorter work week.
“For those who are not interacting with a computer every hour of the day, AI still has benefits, most notably in logistics. For example, AI tools can work through routes and schedules to find efficiencies far faster than a human team, leading to reduced time on the road for deliveries or more effective hours of operation for loading,” Alexander said. “This productivity boost for blue collars likely won’t shorten the work week, but it could ensure fewer days requiring overtime that are less stressful.”
Mangold-Lenett expressed similar skepticism, saying blue-collar workers may not see as many of the benefits.
“Other jobs that aren’t as compatible with current AI systems — construction, plumbing, [etc.] — likely won’t see a reduction in time spent on the job until robotic technologies catch up and can perform highly specialized tasks that only people can currently do,” Mangold-Lenett said.
But not all experts are sold on AI’s ability to make a shorter workweek a reality.
“There’s no shortage of buzz these days about Al transforming the workforce. But there’s still a fair amount of skepticism from businesses when it comes to actually depending on these technologies. Trust is the big issue here,” Jake Denton, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation’s Tech Policy Center, told Fox News Digital. “So, while there’s lots of excitement and speculation about an Al revolution in the workplace, the reality is that we’re still in the early innings. Significant adoption will require Al providers to open up the black box, be transparent about limitations and demonstrate through robust testing that businesses can count on these tools day in and day out.”
Phil Siegel, the founder of the Center for Advanced Preparedness and Threat Response Simulation, told Fox News Digital that such flexible work arrangements for the current labor force may still be out of reach, though there is a possibility advancement in the technology will someday make it a reality.
“I would expect that leading-edge, more experimental and maybe new economy companies are more willing to try AI and more willing to try flexible work arrangements like shorter work weeks,” Siegel said. “In the future, when the productivity benefits of AI are proven, we could see companies willing to try shorter work schedules, especially if the same amount of work gets done with the tools. It also allows companies to blunt job cuts if workers take 20% less work for maybe some smaller amount less pay.”