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Is the four-day week the next big trend for mid-life workers?

  • More than 2 in 5 (42%) workers have more flexibility* with their working hours now, compared to before the pandemic; and one in six of them (17%) say they have a lot more flexibility
  • 45-54s currently work the longest hours of any age group (average 32 hours pw across full/part time)
  • Almost half (46%) of 45-54s** would work between 9-12 hours a day to achieve a more leisurely weekend 

Whilst the thought of returning to the workplace post-lockdown may be positive for some, it will undoubtedly create stress and anxiety for others.  New research from Aviva today reveals that many are looking for more flexibility in their work schedule to give them a more leisurely three-day weekend.

As a consequence of working from home for the last 12-18 months;  home schooling children and carefully balancing work and home life, many agree they have more flexibility with their working hours now compared to before the pandemic.  Overall, more than 2 in 5 (42%) surveyed say they have more flexibility* now with one in six of them (17%) agreeing that they have a lot more flexibility. However, 45-54 year olds continue to work the longest hours per week (on average 32 hours), across all full and part time employees.

When asked what their perfect work schedule would look like, most UK workers (61%) say they would prefer to work longer hours each day to have a extended weekend. This choice of work pattern was most popular amongst the 25-34 year olds (65%). 3 out of 5 (60%) 45-54 year olds also agreed.


Almost half (46%) of 45-54s are willing to work between 9-12 hours a day to secure an extended and more relaxed weekend.

Main reason cited for more flexible working

Those who want more flexibility cited their number one reason as achieving a ‘better work/life balance’ (28%) -  this figure increased to a third (33%) of all 45-54s (the highest proportion across all ages). But nearly a fifth (18%) of UK workers are either happy with their current work schedule and do not want to change anything, or they have already changed their schedule to adopt a smart/ hybrid approach to work.

A quarter think they would enjoy the flexibility of a four-day week (25%), whereas one in five (22%) would prefer not to commute to and from their workplaces every day.  A similar number (21%) claim to be able to do their jobs just as well from home, or remotely.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva says, “Lockdown has changed the working lives of many. Flexibility has increased, and there appears to be appetite for more amongst some age groups.

“Our research indicates that those in mid-life are already working the longest hours on average. And they are also independently recognised as the least happy and most anxious age group1.

“While it’s important to continue to do the right things for our clients, our customers and our colleagues, if employers can help individuals incorporate more flexibility into their schedule it can only be positive.

“Of all ages, greater flexibility in mid-life may carry the greatest reward for the individual and their employer.

This is a fast growing employee population, and one that is under specific strain. Investing in them today will reap reward tomorrow.

“Aviva’s mid-life MOT app2 provides online support to help those in mid life manage their wealth, work and wellbeing. As we emerge from lockdown, age must represent no barrier to the opportunities that this change will bring.”

- ENDS -


Research commissioned by Aviva was carried out by Censuswide between 13-17th May 2021 of 2013 full time and part time employees. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.


*Of those who would prefer to work longer hours each day to have a longer weekend

**Stat combines those who said from ‘yes, a lot more’ and ‘yes, a bit more’


1. ONS Wellbeing stats

2. The free Mid-Life MOT app - download here.

Media enquiries

Fiona Whytock

Retirement, Savings and Investments

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK’s leading Insurance, Wealth & Retirement business and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in Singapore, China and India.
  • We help our 18.5 million customers make the most out of life, plan for the future, and have the confidence that if things go wrong we’ll be there to put it right.
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  • Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at https://www.aviva.com/about-us/our-people/
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