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UK fintech Atom bank moves workers to a four-day working week

The company's shift will see weekly hours drop and salaries remain the same

UK-based fintech Atom bank has introduced a four-day working week for all its employees with no change in salary.

The landmark move for the company cements it as the UK's largest firm to shift to a four-day working week in which staff work fewer hours than they did on a five-day schedule.

All 430 of Atom bank's employees will benefit from the change which came into effect on 1 November 2021. The hours worked per week will reduce from 37.5 to 34 with the duration of work days increasing slightly.

Atom believes the shift will benefit the physical and mental health of employees and lead to greater business productivity. Employees had previously expressed a desire to work more flexibly because of changing work environments brought on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atom said most of its staff have chosen to adopt the new working week which will see most employees either take Monday or Friday as their third rest day of the week.

The four-day week will now be the default for all staff except for those working in operational and services roles, Atom said, whose out-of-office day will be determined on a less rigid basis to ensure uninterrupted customer service.

Atom will also continue to offer customer support across all seven days of the week.

"We believe the 20th-century concept of a five-day week is, in many cases, no longer fit for purpose for 21st-century businesses," said Mark Mullen, CEO at Atom. "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," he added. "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."

Atom's approach to a four-day week is a unique one that stands to benefit employees more than those in other four-day week firms.

In 2020, UK supermarket Morrisons also announced plans to shift to a four-day working week, keeping employee pay the same, but it was only for head office staff, and they also had to work one Saturday per month to recoup the lost time.

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The notion of a four-day working week, and other overhauls of conventional working culture, has been popularised in recent years with the pandemic providing a poignant reminder to some that a more flexible approach to work may be the beneficial option.

Earlier this year, the 'Big Four' professional services giant KPMG launched its 'four-day fortnight' approach to flexible working.

The approach followed a business-wide consultation with employees with the overwhelming majority preferring to work flexibly. Key aspects of flexible working for employees were a lack of commute and being able to spend more time at home.

The company's four-day fortnight involves workers picking which four days over the course of a two-week period they work in the office. 

KPMG also gave staff two-and-a-half hours off per week over the summer to promote wellbeing.

Iceland and New Zealand are famous case studies for nationwide four-day working weeks, with both reporting resounding success particularly in areas such as perception of stress, work-life balance, and productivity.

Scotland most recently announced that it too would trial a four-day working week without loss of pay. Spain also announced a four-day week trial earlier this year with workers spending just 32 hours per week in their roles.

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