Google CEO: Is the 40-Hour Workweek Really Necessary?

Digital technology has already revolutionized the mobile work environment. Will it do the same to the traditional workweek? Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page believes it could. Page and Google co-founder Sergey Brin talked about the changing face of work culture last week with Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, at a CEO summit in Silicon Valley.

The hourlong conversation covered a range of topics, but as the discussion veered into machine learning and machines taking on more jobs held by humans, Page speculated that not everyone necessarily needs to work a 40-hour workweek.

"I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance," he said. "If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy -- housing, security, opportunities for your kids -- anthropologists have been identifying these things. ItEUs not that hard for us to provide those things."

A Disconnected Idea?

"The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small," Page continued. "IEUm guessing less than 1 percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet peopleEUs needs is just not true."

When we asked tech industry analyst Rob Enderle if PageEUs comments had any potential for real-world application, he said they struck him as disconnected and borderline delusional.

"Given that folks at Google routinely work 60- and 70-hour weeks, and given that Google is at the forefront of the type of robotics development that will inevitably cost people jobs, hearing Page hold forth on what the workweek should look like is peculiar," Enderle told us. "It actually makes me wonder if the guy can think strategically at all."

Page said the continued dominance of the 40-hour workweek, especially in Western culture, might have more to do with social...

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