Atom Bank switches to four-day week WITHOUT cutting pay

Staff at Britain’s first smartphone-based bank have been moved on to a four-day working week for the same pay to make them ‘happier and healthier’.

Atom Bank’s 430 employees have been doing 34-hour weeks over four days instead of 37.5 hours over five days since November 1.

They work 9.30am to 4.30pm from Mondays to Thursdays – adding an extra hour to their normal day but taking Fridays off.

Some staff in the contact centre are doing different shifts – but also fewer hours – to make sure the firm operates all week.

Atom Bank is the biggest employer in the country to make the shift full time – while others such as Unilever and Morrisons toyed with the idea.

It comes amid a shortfall in workers and excess of jobs across the country, seeing many companies trying to retain workers by rewarding them with flexible hours.

Chief Executive of Atom Bank Mark Mullen (pictured), 53, said the move has not reduced output but will make workers happier and healthier

Atom Bank's 430 employees have been doing 34-hour weeks over four days instead of 37.5 hours over five days since November 1. Pictured: Its Durham HQ

Atom Bank’s 430 employees have been doing 34-hour weeks over four days instead of 37.5 hours over five days since November 1. Pictured: Its Durham HQ

Chief Executive of the Durham-based firm Mark Mullen, 53, said the move has not reduced output but will make workers happier and healthier.

He told the Times: ‘A lot of the accepted wisdom about work turns out to be just rubbish.’

He added: ‘If you can do things as effectively over four days as over five, why be dogmatic?’

He continued on Today: ‘We want to invest in our people. I don’t think there’s any conflict between happy and engaged people and happy and engaged customers.

‘I would argue if you don’t have the same you’re not going to have the second. Every business is just it’s people. It’s good business to have healthy engaged people.

‘They deliver better customer service. We’ve been doing it for three weeks and we can’t see a single business metric that we can point to that has deteriorated.

‘You would have thought such a dramatic change would lead to deterioration but not a bit.

‘I can’t break the rules more than anyone else because if we don’t commit to it it won’t be a success. It’s a complete day off. You get a three-day weekend every week.’

Atom Bank (pictured, its staff) is the biggest employer in the country to make the shift full time - while others such as Unilever and Morrisons toyed with the idea

Atom Bank (pictured, its staff) is the biggest employer in the country to make the shift full time – while others such as Unilever and Morrisons toyed with the idea

Atom said it had launched 'a robust review process, which had confirmed that there would be no risks to customer service or operations' (file photo)

Atom said it had launched ‘a robust review process, which had confirmed that there would be no risks to customer service or operations’ (file photo)

Atom said before it made the leap it launched ‘a robust review process, which had confirmed that there would be no risks to customer service or operations’.

It also looked at ‘productivity, effectiveness, available resources and impact on external partners and stakeholders’.

It said: ‘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.’

Earlier this year the success of the world’s largest-ever trial of a ‘four-day’ working week in Iceland sparked calls for it to be trialled in the UK.

Workers were less stressed and had a better work-life balance while bosses saw no significant drop-off in productivity or provision of services, analysts said

As a result of the experiment, which ran from 2015 to 2019, some 86 per cent of Icelandic workers negotiated contracts with permanently shortened hours.

Earlier this year the success of the world's largest-ever trial of a 'four-day' working week in Iceland sparked calls for it to be trialled in the UK (file photo)

Earlier this year the success of the world’s largest-ever trial of a ‘four-day’ working week in Iceland sparked calls for it to be trialled in the UK (file photo)

The Icelandic experiment involved two separate trials that initially included just a few dozen public sector workers who were members of unions.

But, as the trial progressed, it expanded to include 2,500 workers in both public and private sectors – or 1 per cent of the country’s entire workforce.

Those involved were police, healthcare staff, shop assistants, teachers and council workers, the Autonomy and Iceland’s Association for Sustainable Democracy said.

While the experiment was dubbed a ‘four-day week’, most workers did not take an entire day off but aimed to reduce their hours from 40 per week to 35 or 36.

They largely did this by scrapping unnecessary meetings, shortening coffee breaks, and moving services online which allowed offices to close earlier.

As a result, workers said they were able to organise their private lives better – running errands in the afternoons or picking up a bigger share of housework.

They also saw more of their family and friends, and had more time for relaxation or to pursue hobbies and passion projects.

That led to a reduction in feelings of stress and anxiety both at home and at work.

Working patterns have shifted in the UK over the last few centuries, with a 19 Century Briton usually working a six-day week.

But in the 1930s Boots helped steer in the two-day weekend which boosted wellbeing and productivity.

Meanwhile Microsoft Japan claims its sales rocketed by nearly 40 per cent when it trialled a four-day week on full pay in 2019.

But the Wellcome Trust in the same year shelved any move for its 800 head office staff because it was ‘too operationally complex’.

They found after a three-month study trying to cramp the workload into fewer days was worse for workers’ wellbeing.

While the experiment was dubbed a 'four-day week', most workers did not take an entire day off but aimed to reduce their hours from 40 per week to 35 or 36 (file photo)

While the experiment was dubbed a ‘four-day week’, most workers did not take an entire day off but aimed to reduce their hours from 40 per week to 35 or 36 (file photo)

Atom Bank was launched in 2016 and is a smartphone-accessed bank, meaning there are no branches and users get into their accounts digitally.

The Mail On Sunday reported in September the company was aiming to raise more than £40million from investors before the end of the year.

The digital bank is backed by investment giants Toscafund Asset Management and Schroders, as well as Spanish banking behemoth BBVA.

It is understood the branchless bank will tap existing shareholders as well as courting new investors.

The fundraising is expected to be the last before the bank floats on the stock market – which could happen as soon as next year.

Atom was one of the first mobile phone-based lenders to emerge alongside rivals including Monzo and Starling.

The bank appointed American rapper Will.i.am as a board adviser and consultant in 2017 on a contract that ended last year.

Atom reported its first monthly operating profit. It posted a loss for the full year to March of £36million, but one analyst said the bank could achieve its first annual operating profit in 2023.

The lender raised £40million in April in a move that slashed its £555million value in half.

The bank offers savings accounts and loans. Its mortgage lending has just hit £3billion.

The bank recently launched a 1.5 per cent rate on its one-year fixed savings product.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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