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What do machine customers and the the four-day week have in common ?

By Mark Raskino | March 03, 2023 | 1 Comment

The answer is something called ‘life admin’.

Recently, Cambridge University researchers revealed the results of a major trial of a four day week. Many companies took part for an extended period – from start-ups to large enterprises in a range of industries. Nearly all of them found positive results from moving to four-day working. Almost all of them are continuing the practice after the end of the trial.

Within the study, the researchers asked about the benefits both to the companies and to the workforce.

“It was common for employees to describe a significant reduction in stress,” said researcher and Cambridge PhD candidate Niamh Bridson Hubbard. “Many described being able to switch off or breathe more easily at home.”

And here’s something that really caught my eye

When employees were asked how they used additional time off, by far the most popular response was “life admin”: tasks such as shopping and household chores. Many explained how this allowed them a proper break for leisure activities on Saturday and Sunday.  

I love the succinct and transparent term ‘life admin’ and what I liked about the statement overall, is the way it casually reminds us of an everyday human reality that marketers are constantly trying to make us forget. A lot of shopping isn’t leisure and pleasure – it is a chore and a bore. Shopping is WORK. A four day paid-work week would give us more personal time to do the unpaid shopping work that companies have increasingly been outsourcing to us over the last couple of decades. Check-in for your flight – on the app, because there are hardly any check-in staff at airports anymore. Check-out at the supermarket using self-scan – because there are hardly any checkout staff anymore. Comparison-shop your own car insurance or packaged holiday because there are hardly any human agents anymore. You say you like the sense of control and you hope you are getting a lower price because those service staff costs are no longer in the model. But here’s a different way of looking at the cumulative effect of all that self-service – it’s costing a big chunk of your life. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could delegate it to someone else – the way very rich people do?  Sadly, if you are like us, you can’t afford a butler, housekeeper, groundsman and family office manager. But we believe that smart machines will start to fill that gap.

Why settle for a four day work week that only gives us back time for the life-admin the modern world has contrived for us?  Don and I believe that AI enabled machine customers will help. Increasingly they will shop for us so we don’t have to remember to go to the store or renegotiate that utility bill. Perhaps the effect on the quality of our lives wont be quite as profound as a three day weekend. But taking away a chunk of that shopping life admin sure would nice – wouldn’t it?

If you want to understand all aspects of the emerging megatrend we call machine customers – then perhaps consider getting our new book about it. Available now in paperback, hardback or ebook at Amazon.

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