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Atom becomes largest company in Britain to introduce four-day week

Atom Bank, the North East fintech and first app based bank, has introduced a four-day working week for all of its 430 employees, with no change in salary, from November 1. The majority of Atom’s employees have chosen to adopt the new working week.

Atom introduced this change in recognition of the strong preference workers have for the opportunity to work flexibly, something which has been emphasised throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the way we live and work forever.

The move allows all Atom employees to choose to move to a 34 hour working week over four days, paid at the same contracted salary rate as their former five day, 37.5 hour week. Mondays or Fridays are expected to be the default days off for the majority of employees, except for those working in operational and services roles whose day out of the office may vary to ensure a continuous and uninterrupted level of service for Atom’s customers.

Atom’s introduction of the four-day week follows a robust review process which confirmed that there would be no risks to customer service or operations. The review assessed a range of factors, including productivity, effectiveness, available resources, and impact on external partners and stakeholders. These measures continue to be captured as part of a business-wide assessment of both commercial and wellbeing benefits of this change.

Atom believes that the world of work needs to change, and that progressive businesses will get ahead of the curve by making the five day week becoming as unnecessary as permanent office working and the daily commute has proved to be for many people.

Mark Mullen, chief executive officer at Atom, said: “Since March 2020, Atom, along with almost all workplaces around the world, has had to adapt rapidly to new ways of working.  Our experience has exploded many of the myths of the modern workplace.  It has happened at a time when we all need to become more aware of the impact of work on both our mental and physical wellbeing.  We now know that many jobs can be done as efficiently and productively from peoples’ own homes as from the office. But why stop there? More can be done – more needs to change.

“The five day week was popularised in the US by carmaker Henry Ford in the 1920s, and it was formally adopted throughout the country during the Great Depression. In the UK, Boots the chemist officially adopted the five day week in 1934 after it was found to increase productivity and employee wellbeing, with the rest of the country following suit.

“We believe the 20th century concept of a five day week is, in many cases, no longer fit for purpose for 21st century businesses. Its introduction originally allowed for the establishment of the weekend, with all the benefits for employees this entailed. At Atom, we feel the time is right for the next evolution in the world of work.

“A four-day week will provide our employees with more opportunities to pursue their passions, spend time with their families, and build a healthier work/life balance. We firmly believe that this will prove beneficial for our employees’ wellbeing and happiness and that it will have an equally positive impact on business productivity and customer experience.

“While we appreciate a four-day working week will not be right for all workplaces, the move to working from home has proved that working practices that may have seemed years away can be introduced rapidly.  We are proud to be one of the first businesses to introduce a four-day week for all our employees, and we hope many others follow suit. With COVID 19 causing vast numbers of people to reconsider how they want to live their lives, anything that leads to more productive, healthier, and, crucially, happier colleagues, is a win for everyone.”