The United Auto Workers’ recent strike against major automakers called for a 32-hour, four-day workweek, along with other demands such as a pay raise and increased job security. This proposal to shorten the workweek has gained momentum in recent years, fueled by the flexibility of remote work during the pandemic and concerns about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace.
Senator Bernie Sanders has long been a vocal proponent of a shorter workweek, arguing that advancements in AI and robotics will make workers more productive. He believes the question that must be addressed is who will benefit from this increased productivity. Sanders sees the 32-hour workweek as an opportunity for workers to have more time for their families, cultural activities, and personal development. He believes that stress levels in America are contributing to a decline in life expectancy, and a shorter workweek could alleviate some of these stressors.
Several countries have already conducted trials of a four-day workweek, yielding positive results. A large-scale trial conducted in the United Kingdom involved 2,900 workers across 61 companies and lasted six months. Participants reported improvements in sleep, more quality time with their children, and reduced burnout. A separate study in Iceland from 2015 to 2019 also showed that a shorter workweek did not decrease productivity.
These trials have sparked discussions and interest in adopting a shorter workweek in other countries. In the United States and Canada, a similar program involving dozens of businesses revealed that none of the companies planned to return to the traditional five-day workweek after the trial ended.
The idea of a 32-hour workweek raises questions and considerations about worker productivity, work-life balance, and the changing nature of work. As remote work and AI continue to reshape the labor landscape, these discussions will likely become more prevalent.
– CNN: “The push for a 32-hour workweek gains momentum as workers seek better balance”
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