Employees at work
AI could pave the way for a four-day workweek, experts suggest. Pexels

The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) could usher in a four-day workweek, a long-held dream for many employees. Dramatic shifts in the pandemic workplace have made this once-unimaginable idea a reality for some.

Many companies have embraced the four-day workweek, citing positive trial-run results in countries like the UK, Iceland and Portugal. Also, global data continues to strengthen the case for it.

With pilot programs ongoing, like the launch of a four-day workweek trial in 45 Germany-based companies, another factor in the discussion of the four-day workweek has emerged. Some experts suggest AI's arrival in the workplace could catalyse a faster transition to a four-day workweek.

This idea is supported by data collected in late 2023 by Tech.co, a London-based news and events resource. In their 2024 Impact of Technology on the Workplace survey, Tech.co polled over 1,000 US business leaders.

How AI Can Accelerate the Rise of the 4-Day Workweek

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that 29 per cent of companies with four-day workweeks leverage AI extensively in their firms' operations and take full advantage of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and other programmes to simplify operations.

The survey found a stark difference. Only 8 per cent of five-day working week organisations use AI extensively. While 93 per cent of businesses using AI are receptive to a four-day workweek, less than 50 per cent of those without AI were open to shorter workweeks.

This finding aligns with last year's prediction by Nobel Prize-winning economist Christopher Pissarides, who suggested generative AI could pave the way for a four-day workweek.

Driftime, a London-based digital design agency, adopts AI technology to operate a flexible four-day workweek.

"By handing over simple tasks to AI tools, we gain invaluable time previously lost to slow aspects of the process," says co-founder Abb-d Taiyo. "With tools like Modyfi, the graphics are all live and modifiable, making it much easier and quicker for our designers to create concepts and ideas."

According to Taiyo, a four-day workweek is a win-win situation for employers and the company's financial health. "Instead of a dip in the quantity of work created over just four days, we've seen a remarkably high quality of work matched by a high staff satisfaction return. The health and happiness of our team are directly correlated to the high standard of work produced," he says.

Shayne Simpson, group managing director of UK-based TechNET IT Recruitment, also believes AI has influenced the success of the company's four-day workweek policy. The company reports that AI tools help recruitment consultants save 21 hours weekly.

The company's recruitment consultants use these AI tools to perform previously manual tasks like data input, confirmation emails, resume screening and candidate outreach. As a result, the company has achieved a 10-day reduction in the average time to fill permanent roles.

"This timesaving allows our team to achieve their weekly goals earlier in the week, and the flexibility liberates our consultants from being tethered to their desks, enabling them to enjoy a well-deserved Friday off," says Simpson.

From Dream to Reality

Simpson highlights that the company's condensed workweek has yielded a triple win - boosting productivity, morale, and talent acquisition. "Seasoned recruitment professionals are enticed by our streamlined processes while entry-level talent is eager to embrace new tools." It's lifted the entire business, he adds.

This finding supports the prognosis of Doug Gurr, chair of a leading AI institute and former Amazon executive, who believes AI will lead to a wealthier and more skilled global workforce. While AI tools continue to facilitate the adoption of a four-day work week within some industries, the technology can't bring the change alone.

According to Na Fu, a professor in human resource management at Trinity Business School, Ireland, organisational culture within a business is equally important. "An openness to innovative work structures, an experimental mindset and, importantly, a culture grounded in high levels of trust are all important for the four-day work week to be successfully adopted," she says.