Durham’s Atom bank moves to four-day week

Atom bank CEO Mark Mullen

Durham-based digital lender Atom bank said on Tuesday it has become the largest company in the UK to introduce a four-day working week and reduced hours for all employees, with no reduction in salary.

Atom bank said it introduced the four-day working week for all 430 employees on November 1.

The company said salaries will not be changed, despite a reduction in working hours from 37 to 34 per week.

“Atom’s move to a four-day working week is to support improved employee mental and physical wellbeing together with improved business productivity …” said the firm.

“Atom is taking a lead in reshaping the nature of work to take account of longer working lives, the positive impact of technology and flexible working and the need to live and work more sustainably.”

Atom’s biggest investors include BBVA and Toscafund.

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 CEO Mark Mullen 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.”