Last reviewed 26 November 2021

The UK’s first app-based bank has announced that it will be testing its work practices over the next few months, including a trial of a four-day working week for its 430 staff without cutting their pay.

Atom Bank explained that its team will be able to work a shortened 34-hour week over four days, with no impact on their salary, if they wish but anyone can choose to opt out and continue to work a five-day week if they prefer.

“As the largest company to introduce a four-day week for everyone, and one of the first to make this move, we’re determined to make this a success and challenge traditional and antiquated working practices,” the bank said.

It has highlighted a 2021 study by environmental organisation Platform London, “Stop the Clock”, which found that if the UK switched to a four-day week then, by 2025, it could cut emissions by 127 million tonnes, a reduction of more than 20% and more than the entire carbon footprint of Switzerland.

The Platform London report can be found here.

Atom Bank also cited Icelandic companies who, from 2015 to 2019, trialled shorter weeks and found many workers reporting that their work-life balance improved and that they had more time to spend with family, on hobbies and doing chores.

“We’ve already mentioned giving our team a better work-life balance,” the bank said, “but we want them to feel happier and healthier in the long run as well. It’s our hope that by dropping down to four days, we will give everyone the time they need to care for their own physical and mental wellbeing.”

CEO Mark Mullen said that he would not be sending his staff emails on a Friday.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

With businesses such as Atom Bank introducing a four-day working week without cutting pay, a shorter working week is beginning to be seen as the norm for some staff.

Flexible working can benefit businesses by helping to retain staff, boost productivity and improve employee wellbeing. Employers who offer flexible or hybrid working (where the working week is split between remote working and the office) are increasingly able to attract the best talent to their business and have a competitive edge over companies which stick to the traditional office-based 9am–5pm.

However, for a four-day week to work in practice, employers need to review their working practices and put measures in place to enable staff to complete their work during these shorter hours.

Employers need to be mindful that flexible working can increase work-related stress if staff are expected to do the same work in less time.