Future Trends

New Workanomics29th April 2019

Is nine to five still the best way to work? Increasingly, many businesses and employees are looking at alternatives to the traditional full-time work week, using artificial intelligence (AI), automation and new employee rewards.

In 2018, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based trust and estate planning firm, conducted a breakthrough trial to test the efficacy and benefits of a shorter working week; 250 staff members could switch to a four-day work week with no commensurate loss of salary. Employees were involved in creating initiatives to automate manual processes to work more efficiently in less time.

After the experiment, staff were shown to have lower stress levels, higher job satisfaction, and reported feeling more focused and productive in the office. The trial was deemed so successful that it will now be implemented permanently. Founder Andrew Barnes explains: “For us, this is about our company getting improved productivity from greater workplace efficiencies. There’s no downside for us.”

Berlin-based online project management company Planio is also transitioning to a four-day work week. Key steps being implemented include reducing and optimising communication, and using project management tools to get rid of inefficiencies. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service (NHS) is trialing the use of
AI to improve the speed of processing administrative work at the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. Administrators claim that the AI assistants are eight times more productive than human staff, allowing them to dramatically decrease the man hours required for paperwork. The new system will enable frontline workers to tackle harder, more complex work, utilising their skills more fully and decreasing the number of hours they need to work to get things done.

Why it's interesting:

Reduced working hours, even down to a four-day work week, could become the reality for most workers this century. Findings from new research conducted by the UK-based thinktank Social Market Foundation show that automation and AI could lead to sufficient increases in workplace efficiencies to allow workers to accomplish the same tasks in less time. With benefits to employees and productivity increases clearly being demonstrated around the world, companies are beginning to take advantage. This shift comes as people start to embrace flexible or alternative working practices, and employee rewards expand beyond financial incentives to time, wellness, and side hustles.


Source & Cover Source: JWT Intelligence - The Future 100: 2019

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