Since the start of this month, employees at Atom Bank work 34 hours a week over four days – with the same pay. 

The online bank’s 430 workers now get either Monday or Friday off, when previously they worked 37.5 hours across the whole week.

This means they will have to work longer hours on the days they are at their desks. 

Chief Executive Officer at Atom, Mark Mullen said: “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.

Trials in Iceland in 2015 and 2019 of a four day week were reported to be an overwhelming success according to its researchers. 

The trials were run by Reykjavik City Council with around 2,500 workers, which is around one percent of the country’s population.

The trials led unions to renegotiate working patterns, and now 

Since the trials, 86 percent of Iceland’s workforce will soon get rights to move to shorter hours with same pay, or have already done so. 

Director of research at Autonomy who conducted the study, Will Stronge, said: “This shows that the world’s largest ever trial of a shorter working week in the public sector was by all measures an overwhelming success.”

Regarding Atom Bank’s new working week, Mark Mullen said it would give employees a better quality of life: “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.”

Speaking to the BBC, Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD said: “It is undoubtedly a positive move for employers to seek to reduce people’s working hours without compromising pay.”

But added: “However, I think the challenge of simply reducing people’s working hours without other changes is that you can increase exposure to stress, which is already one of the main causes of working time lost to sickness absence.”






Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.