Following the news that Atom Bank has decided to move to a four day week to allow for a better work-life balance for employees, Peter Woodhouse, Stone King’s Head of Business Sector and Employment team, reflects on whether more businesses should be considering this step in a post-Covid working world.
“Many readers will have noted the news item from Atom Bank about its introduction of a four day working week with no loss of pay. This reflects a growing trend, to a significant extent driven by the pandemic, further to address working and well-being issues.
“If employers aren’t thinking about this for their own workforce, then they should be. I have written before around “Covid Keepers“ i.e. the opportunity to adapt changes originally forced by the pandemic into voluntary and improved competitive advantages. The four day working week may be seen by potential staff as a reason to join a company, or by current staff as a reason to stay.
“However, the four day working week is not without its complications. Perhaps the most obvious one would be that employees are likely to expect employees to work harder on the four days they are at work. Many employees will think they work pretty hard anyway. Will the four day week help or actually make things worse?
“Historically, the old-fashioned (reduced pay) four day week has been seen as a raw deal due to the temptation to do five days’ work for four days' pay. Will the new style four day working week run into the same difficulties?
“Then there are challenges around how to deal with part-time workers. Then there are challenges around who gets what day and how teams can get together if they are all taking different days.
“It would seem that Atom Bank considers these kind of difficulties to be surmountable, but many will not. Employers should be thinking about this before their competitors do.”
To read more about Atom Bank’s decision to move to a four day week, please click here.