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Atom introduces four-day working week

Written by: Emma Lunn
The challenger bank claims to be the largest company in Britain to introduce a four-day working week and reduced hours for all employees, with no reduction in salary.

The new four-day working week started on 1 November 2021, with the majority of Atom’s 430 employees choosing to adopt the new working pattern. Employees are paid the same despite a reduction in working hours from 37 to 34 per week.

The bank says the move is to support improved employee mental and physical wellbeing together with improved business productivity.

Atom says it introduced the change in recognition of the ‘strong preference’ workers have for the opportunity to work flexibly, something which it says has been emphasised throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

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 says it introduced the four-day week following 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.

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.”

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