The first UK-based smartphone bank has moved its staff to a 4-day work week to increase their happiness and health.

Atom Bank’s 430 employees now work 34-hour week over four days rather than 37.5 over five, since November 1.

The workers work Monday to Thursday from 9:30 to 4.30 pm. They take Fridays off, but add an hour to their usual day.

To ensure the firm is open every week, some staff at the contact centre work in different shifts.

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.

The country is experiencing a shortage in workers, and excess jobs. This means that many employers are looking to retain employees by giving them flexible working hours.

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

Mark Mullen (pictured) is the Atom Bank’s Chief Executive. He said that while this move did not decrease output, it will increase happiness and health for workers.

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 employees (430) have worked 34 hour weeks in four days, instead of 37.5 over five days. This has been happening since November 1st. Pictured at its Durham headquarters

Are there any UK businesses that have a week of four days? If so, what are their thoughts and how did they do it?

You made the jump:

  • Atom Bank
  • Target Publishing
  • 3D Issue
  • Advice Direct Scotland
  • Autonomy think tank
  • Big Potato Games
  • Blink
  • CMG Technologies
  • Common Knowledge
  • Earth Science Partnership
  • Venture Stream

The idea of a “Toying” with it:

  • Unilever
  • Morrisons
  • Microsoft

Rejected after being tested:

  • Wellcome Trust
  • Sat Bains Restaurant 

Mark Mullen (53), chief executive of Durham-based company, stated that the change hasn’t reduced output, but will increase happiness and health for workers.

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

He also said that if you are able to do the same things in as few days than it is in five, why not be methodical?

He went on to say, Today: “We want invest in our people.

“I do not believe that there should be any conflicts between happy, engaged people and happy, engaged customers.

“I’d argue that you can’t have one without the other. Each business’ people are its greatest asset. Healthy, engaged employees make a great business.

“They provide better customer service. For three weeks, we haven’t seen any business metrics that indicate that they’ve changed.

“You might have thought that such drastic changes would result in deterioration. But not one bit.

“I cannot break the rules as much as anyone because it will not be successful if you don’t make it a priority. This is a full day off. Every week, you get a 3-day weekend.

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’.

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 with its employees, is the largest employer in the nation to offer the full-time shift – while other companies such as Unilever or Morrisons tried to do the same.

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 claimed it had initiated a ‘rigorous review’ that had confirmed that there wouldn’t be any risks to customers’ operations and customer services (file photograph).

According to the statement, “Mondays or Fridays will be considered the default day off for the majority employees except those who work in operational or services roles. However, this is to assure a consistent and uninterrupted service level for Atom’s customers.

This year, after the international success of the largest-ever trial for a four-day work week in Iceland, there was a demand that it be tried in the UK.

An analysis found workers had less stress and a better balance between work-life and family life, while bosses reported no decrease in productivity or delivery of services.

The experiment ran between 2015 and 2019, during which 86% of Icelandic workers signed contracts that permanently reduced their 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)

An earlier version of this article shows that the UK was urged to test the ‘four-day working week’ in Iceland, which is the largest ever conducted.

In Icelandic, there were two trials. At first, only a few public sector workers had to be involved in the experiment.

However, as the trial developed, it grew to include 2500 workers in the private and public sectors, or 1% of the entire country’s workforce.

According to the Autonomy and Iceland’s Association for Sustainable Democracy, those involved included police officers, nurses, doctors, and shop assistants.

The experiment, which was called the ‘four-day weeks’ by most workers, did not last an entire day. However they were aiming to decrease their working hours from 40 to 35 per week.

This was largely done by reducing unnecessary meetings and shortening the coffee breaks. Additionally, they used online moving services to allow offices to close sooner.

Workers reported that they are able to organize their personal lives more efficiently, such as running errands during the day or doing more housework.

These people also had more contact with their families and friends and more time to enjoy relaxation and pursue interests and passion projects.

It led to an improvement in stress levels at work and home.

The UK’s working pattern has changed over time. In the 19th century, a Briton would usually work six days a week.

Boots were instrumental in the creation of the 2-day weekend in 1930s which was a boon for productivity and well-being.

Microsoft Japan has claimed that its sales have risen by almost 40% since it introduced a week-long full-pay trial in 2019, where the company claims to have sold nearly 45,000 units.

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

The three-month long study found that workers who were forced to work less was detrimental to their health.

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)

The experiment, which was nicknamed a four-day work week’ by most workers, did not last an entire day. However they were determined to decrease their working hours from 40 to 35 or 36 per week. (file photo).

Atom Bank launched in 2016. It is an app-accessible bank that allows users to access their accounts via smartphones.

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

Toscafund Asset Management, Schroders and Spanish bank giant BBVA are backing the digital bank.

It’s understood that the branchless bank will both tap existing shareholders while also seeking out 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.

Along with Starling and Monzo, Atom was the first mobile-phone-based lender to appear., an American singer and songwriter was hired by the bank in 2017. The agreement ended last year.

Atom announced its first month of operating profits. 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.

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

A 1.5% rate was recently introduced by the bank on its fixed-rate one year savings product.