Atom Bank Introduces 4-Day Working Week

First bank to offer a shortened week - will it prove successful?

November 26, 2021
Atom Bank Introduces 4-Day Working Week
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Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

 

Digital challenger Atom Bank has introduced a four-day working week policy for its staff, without reducing their pay.

The 430 employees of the bank can now choose to work 34 hours spread across Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Friday, rather than the 37.5 hours they were previously working Monday to Friday.

The bank has stressed that it is a voluntary change, and that staff can remain on a five-day week if they prefer and that anyone working a four-day week will be working longer days to make up their 34 hours than they would be if working 9-5.

COVID accelerates change

Atom Bank was one of the first digital challenger banks set up in the UK, and while other names like Monzo and Starling have since taken a larger slice of the market, it remains a sizeable player, with £2.7 billion of loans on its books in the last financial year.

The bank said that, following the changes to working life during the COVID-19 pandemic, a review was carried out to see if the switch to a four-day working week would help to improve the wellbeing of staff and improve retention rates.

Once the study showed that there wouldn’t be a negative impact of the switch, the bank put the new arrangement in place on 1st November.

Before Covid, the conventional wisdom was you had to commute in, sit at a desk all day and repeat that process when you commuted home… Covid showed us that it wasn't necessary… I think doing 9-5, Monday to Friday is a pretty old-fashioned way of working. Everyone is expected to stick to it. I can't be sending my staff emails on a Friday, I can't expect to them to respond to them.

Mark Mullen, Atom Bank

Rise of the four-day working week

While the idea of a four-day working week is still uncommon in the UK, it has been gaining popularity elsewhere in the world. In particular, a study in Iceland amongst public sector workers showed that employees were a lot less likely to suffer from stress and burnout when they moved to the four-day week and were overall much happier.

A similar trial for Microsoft in Japan in 2019 saw sales boosted by almost 40% as staff became more energised working for four days on full pay.

In the UK there seems to be more resistance, with the most publicised instance being the planned trial by the UK science research foundation the Wellcome Trust. This was scrapped over fears staff would be less productive and some employees might be affected negatively, due to increased stress during the longer working days.

Atom Bank has admitted that staff attrition is unusually high due to the effects of the pandemic, with the hope that this new way of working will attract new talent and keep the best workers at the business as it seeks to grow. It’s the first bank to publicly offer this new working system as many banks push to get staff back into the office more.

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Last updated:  About Atom Bank Atom Bank is a digital-only financial company and ‘challenger bank’ established in Durham in 2014. Challenger banks...
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