A bank is offering its staff a four day working week, and it could be a sign of the things to come.
Workers will enjoy a permanent long weekend but without any reduction in their pay.
The bank says the aim of the radical rostering change is to promote employee health and wellbeing.
In addition, it also says it will increase productivity.
Bank offers four day working week
The Atom Bank in the UK has told its 430 staff they can take a Monday or Friday off, reducing their hours from 37 to 34.5 hours a week.
In order to make up the hours, employees will have to work slightly longer hours over the other four days.
The bank said that it is introducing the change to support workers “mental and physical” wellbeing.
Mark Mullen, Atom CEO, told the Financial Times the pandemic had “exploded many of the myths of the modern workplace”.
For example, the need to be in the office.
“People are working for more than 50 years, it’s multiple marathons, so we’re asking how can we keep our people engaged and keep ourselves healthy. I’m quite excited about it — there’s no going back.”
Mullen said the extra time off will give workers the chance to spend time with family and build a healthier work/life balance.
While the new working hours are voluntary, most staff have switched to the new way of working since it began at the start of November.
Increase in productivity
Atom believes the reduction in work hours will also increase productivity.
Mullen pointed to a European study which found reducing full time hours from 40 down to 35 showed no impact on the performance of the business and actually increased productivity.
“We moved our entire bank to homeworking in a weekend with no disruption to customers, and that kind of opens your mind about what you thought was impossible,” Mullen said.
The Australian experience
If you doubt the impact on productivity, consider the recent experience of Australian company Versa.
The digital media business trialled a program that allowed workers to take off every Wednesday, provided they completed all their work in four days.
Versa CEO, Kath Blackham, said profits had tripled since the Wednesday-off rule came in to effect last July.
Furthermore, the company’s revenue has grown by 46 percent in that same time.
Inventium, an Australian behavioural science consultancy, has also given its staff Friday’s off after a year-long trial. Staff still receive full pay.
In March, the Spanish government announced trials of a 32-hour work week over the next three years.
Meanwhile, a New Zealand company also tried the four-day work week in 2018 and reported a 20 percent increase in productivity.
Finally, Microsoft Japan experimented with a four-day week in 2019 and found productivity increased by nearly 40 percent.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said the evidence for businesses to consider a four-day working week is compelling.
“I can understand the reluctance of bosses to let their workers have an extra day off a week, especially at full pay,” he said.
“But if the result is increased revenue and profits, and a happier workforce, perhaps its time for more Aussie companies to think outside the box and give it a go.”
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