Business

AI could boost a permanent culture and shorten the work week

  • Some have argued that AI could help usher in a four-day work week.
  • But one CEO predicts that AI could actually increase demands on workers as businesses operate 24/7.
  • One advocate of short weeks said it was up to management to decide whether AI would eliminate jobs or allow us to work four days.

Binny Gill works almost every day.

He is the founder and CEO of Kognitos, a company that uses generative artificial intelligence to automate business processes. As the creator of the original idea for the business, Gill expects to work weekends.

He also expects more go-getters will feel pressure to do the same as AI pushes deeper into the workplace.

Much of the talk about how AI might rewrite our job descriptions revolves around the idea that tireless robots will take over much of the drudgery. The theory is that this would free us up for so-called deep work or more creative activities – and perhaps make the transition to a four-day work week easier.

Steve Cohen, the hedge fund titan and majority owner of the New York Mets, appears to support this theory. In early April, he said leisure businesses could see increased demand because of this, meaning people will have more time to play golf.

Yet Gill sees another possibility beyond overtime on the fairway: AI could energize an “always on” culture and push at least some of us to work more, not less.

“Ordinary businesses will use AI just to keep up – for AI to make decisions that humans are needed for – and businesses will turn into machines running 24/7,” he said. -he declared to Business Insider.

He expects that if his customers get used to having AI service on weekends, they could expect this level of response at all times.

“Humans will do less manual labor, but they will be on call all the time because businesses are not going to sleep because it’s about competing with your competitors, who are not going to sleep,” he said. declared.

Of course, if people have to monitor AI robots at all hours, workers could take on babysitting duties at different times of the day. And that can still be less than 40 hours per week for some employees. But maybe not for others, says Gill.

“My clients take a day off on Saturday and Sunday,” so Gill can tell his engineers to rest on the weekend. But as he sees how AI will change the way humans work, “people are going to get more and more tired – and busier,” Gill said. “Not everywhere, but in the majority of cases.”

Looking for a reward

Not everyone thinks AI will crush dreams of a four-day work week. Emily Rose McRae, senior managing analyst at research firm Gartner, expects the idea to go from “radical to routine.” She told BI that when it comes to making AI our prime mover, it can be difficult for businesses to justify the added expense of getting operations up and running all day and All night long.

“There needs to be some sort of compensation for these costs. And the statement ‘Our competitors are doing this’ will only work if there is a demand for this type of coverage,” McRae said. She added that many companies have in recent years reduced the level of service they once offered because employees who feel overworked are reluctant to do so.

McRae thinks competitive pressure might even push more companies to experiment with the four-day workweek — before executives feel ready — so bosses can hang on to their employees. Additionally, operating 24/7 would be difficult because it could require too many workers, she said.

“Basically we don’t have enough manpower,” McRae said. “AI allows you to do things faster, without taking 24 hours.”

Simon Johnson, professor of global economics and management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, told BI that many employees already feel pressured to work overtime. “I don’t see how AI could help with that,” he said.

Still, Johnson said he expects the four-day work week to come to fruition. But when it comes to AI, he says, a big question is what new tasks the technology might create in the next five to 10 years that we can’t imagine. The answer could help shape our weeks.

“It could create more pressure to work,” he said, adding that it could also allow people to focus on more creative activities at work or in their free time.

For now, however, the productivity gains for existing tasks that AI can take over aren’t very significant, Johnson said.

Everyday workers could win if technology generated many more things to do. But if it doesn’t and it starts putting people out of work, that would create more competition for the remaining jobs.

“In this situation, you don’t pay workers more and let them work fewer hours,” he said.

Alexey Korotich, vice president of product at Wrike, a work management platform, told BI that because AI will give workers real-time access to information whenever they want, it could be more difficult for some employees to withdraw and add to the pressure of being. “always on.”

He highlighted the advantages provided by electronic mail over postal mail. Rather than taking days or weeks, a message could be delivered in seconds, making businesses more efficient.

“E-mail solved their problem. But then it created another problem, which is that it is so cheap to send e-mails that humanity now has difficulty responding to e-mails,” he said. Korotich said.

It’s management’s choice.

Even if AI allows many of us to work less, it will be important for bosses to do so too, Dale Whelehan, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit that advocates for a shorter work week. Otherwise, workers hoping to advance to management positions will feel pressured to follow this behavior and work harder.

Whelehan said ultimately management will decide whether AI will lead to job losses or enable a four-day work week.

“Technology was the great hope of the early 2000s. It was going to lead to huge job losses, but it didn’t. It created a lot of new jobs. It created huge amounts of innovation, but what it didn’t do it actually made our lives easier when it comes to having a better work-life balance,” he said.

For his part, Kognitos’ Gill believes that many people’s desire to accumulate more and stay ahead means their workweek might not reach four days, even with the help of AI.

According to him, the number of hours worked per week is not necessarily directly linked to technology. “It’s just related to ‘Is there a desire to be better than your neighbor?'”

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