News of the four-day working week trial took the UK by storm recently. While researchers and companies alike have long touted the benefits of the prophesied four-day week, few have been bold enough to implement one. That was until Atom Bank came along.
How Atom started a chain reaction
Atom have a habit of disrupting the norm. Founded in 2013, they were the first banking service to operate on a digital only basis, built specifically for a smartphone or tablet. But of course, they made national headlines in November of 2021 with the announcement that they would be the first UK company to switch to a four-day week (without a pay cut for staff).
"Before Covid, the conventional wisdom was you had to commute in, sit at a desk all day and repeat that process when you commuted home," CEO Mark Mullen told the BBC. "Covid showed us that it wasn't necessary…I think doing 9-5, Monday to Friday is a pretty old fashioned way of working."
Atom Bank employees will now only work 34 hours per week as opposed to the traditional 37.5, and choose either Monday or Friday off. However, they will be working longer hours on the days they are in. Initial research suggested that there would be no impact to customer service, and if recent news is anything to go by, that has certainly turned out to be true. The Daily Express also recently reported that Atom had seen a 500% jump in job applications - though Mullen did acknowledge it was "too early to declare victory".
The four day week takes off
But now a pattern is emerging. Last week came the announcement that some 30 companies would be trialling a four-day week over the next 6 months. The pilot has been accredited by the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Oxford, Cambridge and Boston Universities. Among the list are big-hitters like Venture Stream, Charlton Morris and Big Potato Games, along with many more.
Overall, the campaign hopes to push employers to focus more on productivity than time accrued at work, with the ultimate goal of improving employee mental health, work-life balance, and motivation. The trial will happen in congruence with similar pilots running in Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and the US.
Many experts have predicted that 2022 will be the year that the 'future of work' becomes a present a reality. Along with the four-day week trial employers have already been enhancing flexible work policies, adding extra perks to job roles to entice new talent, and hiring globally to make the most of remote working freedoms.
With this in mind, we caught up with NearU's very own co-founder, James Solomides, to add his two cents to the mix. So without further ado, here are his top 3 predictions for what 2022 holds for the working world.
3 predictions for the future of work
"Widespread adoption & acceptance of the 4-day working week"
This is kind of an obvious guess, but you can hardly talk about the future of work without mentioning this. Of course we're already seeing the four-day week being adopted on a trial basis, but I believe we can expect to see this extend far beyond the current 6 month plan. Atom Bank is already seeing a huge surge in job applications, an exciting development when you consider firms have been struggling to attract new talent in recent years. No doubt, more companies will be jumping on the bandwagon once the results of the 6 month pilot are revealed.
"More choice offered by a business to employees in where they work"
Considering this is what we do here at NearU, it's not surprising that this prediction also makes it to the list. But it is a trend we have been observing ever since our inception in 2019. Our clients come to us wanting to offer their staff flexibility in where they work - the pandemic has shown that commuting to the office every day doesn't have to be the only way (and it certainly isn't the most productive use of time). Offering workers a 'third space' near them, completely on-demand and pay-as-you-go, has been steadily growing in popularity thanks to the perks it can offer both the employers and their employees. We expect to see more companies follow suit and expand their traditional real estate portfolio with more variety.
"Market leaders will appear in hybrid-work tech"
We'd not heard of Zoom at the beginning of 2020, and now it's ubiquitous. Microsoft Teams was just a piece of software on our laptops before it became the window to our working world. Clubhouse demand soared, then it tanked and its target audience completely changed. We're now seeing similar things happening with the Metaverse, and new companies are popping up while others are being acquired by larger players. Same thing happened with on-demand groceries - there's loads now, but a handful of major players. I think 2022 will be the year we see this type of activity happening across our marketplace, with front-runners starting to appear and everyone refining their market positioning.
At NearU, we're constantly innovating to make the future of work a present reality. By providing on-demand workspaces near your employees, you can cut down on wasted commuting time, save unnecessary real estate costs, and improve staff wellbeing. Interested in how we can work for you? Book a free demo with our Sales team today - or simply download our app from the App Store or Google Play and then search, book, and work.