Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been one thing that has barely changed for the majority of workers – the routine of 09:00 to 17:00, five days a week.
The UK’s Trade Union Council (TUC) has called for a four-day maximum working week as part of its report into how changes to the current and future workplace can best benefit workers.
The four day week has been trialed by a host of businesses and studied by research institutes. They found that work remained up to standard while teamwork and work engagement increased, and stress decreased. Additionally, while there was no drop in work quality, there was not an improvement either.
Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence should allow businesses to share the profits of greater productivity with their staff, by offering them the same level of pay for fewer hours.
A report this January from Centre for Cities found that 3.6m UK jobs could be replaced by machines by 2030.
According to a survey of 2,000 workers by the TUC, four out of five want shorter hours and to stay on the same levels of pay as technology increases companies’ efficiency.
It is rather unlikely that a 4 day week becomes a reality for all in the near future. It may be feasible for some companies, but it is unlikely to happen across entire economies in the years to come. Companies that wanted to limit working hours would have to make investments to help their workers become more productive, which would take time and cost money.