The working week is getting shorter again: towards a three-day future

Gianluca Riccio

Weather, Society

The future could be a "traditional" three-day work week that perfectly balances our desire to produce and our need to cultivate interests.

The future of work could be halfway between "work as a reason for living" (a perspective that Today I don't like it anymore) and “the machines will drive us all under the bridge”. It could be a world where artificial intelligence makes a three-day work week a reality. A mixed system, capable of enhancing both the benefits of automation and those of a "constructive society".

This perspective opens up intriguing questions about the nature of work and how society might adapt to such changes.

Era of automation and impact on work

In the modern era, automation and artificial intelligence are rapidly transforming the work landscape. These technologies offer the promise of greater efficiency and productivity, but they also raise important questions about the future of human work. Increasingly sophisticated machines are starting to carry out tasks that once required human intervention, thus shifting the focus from manual jobs to those that require greater cognitive and creative skills.

Things change quickly: just a few months ago the central theme was that of a 4 day work week (with successful experiments around). Today the possibility of one already appears three-day working week: it's not just a utopian fantasy. In fact, it's a concrete hypothesis that is gaining ground in many business environments.

Even the much reviled Bill Gates recently talked about it: in the podcast 'What Now?' by Trevor Noah (if you're interested you can find it here), Gates painted a future in which AI could radically revolutionize the way we approach work. Among the various elements of this scenario, also a much shorter working week.

Three days of work a week
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The economic and social implications of a three-day work week

A shorter working week of just three days would have significant economic and social implications. For companies, it means reconsidering how to measure the productivity and value of human work. For workers, it opens up the possibility of better balancing work and private life, dedicating more time to family, hobbies and well-being.

There are clearly also concerns about job security and income, especially in sectors where automation could completely replace human roles. This reasonable "middle way", however, is much more feasible in the medium term, and would allow society to adapt gradually.

The role of technology in shaping the future

Technology, as I said, is a key factor in this change. Artificial intelligence, in particular, has the potential to completely revolutionize the way we work. With its ability to learn, adapt and perform increasingly complex tasks (until we "overtake" ourselves in 2026), AI will be able to carry out repetitive or dangerous jobs, leaving humans with tasks that require creativity, empathy and judgment.

More efficiency for foods, products and buildings, more gratification for us, who could focus on what we find most meaningful.

Challenges and opportunities

Despite the potential benefits, there are significant challenges ahead. One of the biggest is ensuring that the benefits of automation and artificial intelligence are distributed equally in society. Automation and AI have already shown that they can widen the gap between those who have the skills and those who don't. Artificial intelligence (let's not hide it, the latest events in OpenAI are obvious) is already firmly in the hands of the “capitalists”. Other than non-profit.

The reduction of the working week to three days will have impacts on workers' income, especially in less automatable sectors. So the advantages are many and new, but the disadvantages are the same as always: and they must be addressed first, or they will nullify everything.

Another fundamental aspect will be to find a new balance between work and free time. And here in the long run I only see positives: a three-day work week could offer people more opportunities to pursue their interests, learn new skills and improve their quality of life. This could also have a positive impact on society as a whole, promoting greater involvement in community activities and volunteering initiatives. And less burden on mental health centers.

Three days of work, four days of possibilities

The idea of ​​a three-day work week, although still in its infancy, opens up a world of possibilities. This perspective invites us to reflect on the value of work, the importance of free time and the role that technology can play in improving our working and personal lives.

We may soon find ourselves planning not just the “weekend” but also the “half week.” Imagine the possibilities: more time for hobbies, family, or just relaxing. And who knows, perhaps in this not too distant future, Monday morning could transform from the most feared day of the week to a pleasant reminder of a “heavier” working era.

In a world where three days of work a week might be the norm, who's to say what we'll come up with with all that extra free time? Perhaps, it is precisely in those “extra” days that the greatest ideas and innovations will be born. After all, as he said that Mr. architect, “Less is more”. Yes, “less is more”. In the future of work, this could be the motto that guides us towards an era of slightly more balanced productivity and slightly more widespread well-being.

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Near Future & Everyday Fact

Alberto Robiati and Gianluca Riccio guide readers through scenarios of the future: the opportunities, risks and possibilities we have to create a possible tomorrow.