Keynes was almost right, but he didn’t factor in the human thirst for owning “stuff” and the stagnation in incomes, since the 1970’s. In most western economies, many people have to work long hours to make money, just to get by.
Some people argue that he wasn’t that far off, in his predictions, when we factor in the number of public holidays and vacation days taken each year, PLUS longer retirements, as people live longer.
So, with ten years left until 2030, will technology increase the likelihood of a 15-hour workweek for everyone?
We have all read that robots and AI (Artificial Intelligence) are going to replace a lot of jobs – but is that really true and is technology a threat rather than an aid that will improve our work lives and make us more effective?
Recently, at Web Summit in Lisbon (hailed as the world’s biggest tech conference), a discussion took place on the topic of the ‘Future of Work’ and the interesting thing was that the panellists, that included Daniel Yanisse from Checkr, Oisin Hanrahan from Handy ANGI Homeservices, Chelsea Rustrum from It’s a shareable life, and Kimberly Weisel, from Inc., all felt that AI was a very long way off from replacing humans, in the majority of sectors.
Without a doubt we are going to continue to see an increase in automation – but how close are we really, to seeing robot cleaners around the office, for instance? A super-smart cleaning robot would need to be able to tell the difference between what’s laying on the floor – is it a chocolate bar wrapper or a post-it note with your passwords on? That kind of trustworthy “leave it alone to do its thing” intelligence, is very far away.
One area where technology will improve things, is AR – Augmented Reality. One example is combining AR with smart glasses for Electricians and Plumbers, to be able to see where cables and pipes are, behind walls and in ceilings. This will be an amazing step forward in the service quality that they can provide – and save a lot of mess for homeowners!
This kind of service level improvement, as the result of the AR technology, is unlikely to encourage many people to work less hours with their saved time, in fact it is predicted to do the opposite. Currently there is a shortage in the ‘Home Services’ labour market, in a lot of countries, so professionals in this field will be able to take on more jobs, finish them efficiently, and move quickly on to the next customer – most likely maintaining a five- or six-day week.
Sorry everyone – the conclusion from this discussion was that we are unlikely to be working 15 hour weeks in ten years’ time, however we may in fact only be doing 15 hours of boring ‘grunt’ work – and spending the rest of our work hours being creative, planning, analysing, and taking big actions!
Now that sounds like a good future!