In our first of two seminars on the future of work after automation Dr Brendan Burchell will investigate the potential for a five-day weekend society.

Machine-learning and robotics technologies promise to be able to replace some tasks or jobs that have traditionally been performed by humans. Like previous technologies introduced in the past couple of centuries, this possibility has been met with either optimism that will permit liberation from the tyranny of employment, or pessimism that it will lead to mass precarity and unemployment.

This presentation will draw upon both qualitative and quantitative evidence to explore the possible societal consequences of a radical reduction in the length of the normal working week. Drawing upon the evidence for the psychological benefits of employment, we look at the evidence for the minimum effective dose of employment. The paper also considers why the historical increases in productivity have not been matched with proportionate reductions in working time.