The baby boomers are coming of age — retirement age, that is: roughly 10,000 of them retire every day.
But not every baby boomer hits 65 and decides it’s time to bow out of the workforce. Some baby boomers — 10 percent of them — don’t want to retire at all. They’d rather stay busy. Meanwhile, 21 percent of baby boomers simply plan to work “as long as possible.” Other baby boomers simply feel they cannot afford to retire altogether.
Whatever the reason behind the trend, the fact remains that more and more elderly people are choosing to remain in the workforce these days.
But older workers often face challenges when looking to keep their jobs or find new employment, including ageism, physical problems, and health issues.
Maren Kate Donovan, founder and CEO of virtual assistant company Zirtual, believes that baby boomers can overcome these challenges — and live happier, more rewarding lives — by becoming telecommuters.
“One of the greatest things about telecommuting is that it really takes away from ageism, which a lot of people suffer from later in life,” Donovan says. “The thing about being behind a computer, is that it really lets your skills and aptitudes show, versus people being able to make prejudiced decisions based on age.”
With this in mind, Donovan shares four reasons why she believes baby boomers should think about joining the growing ranks of America’s telecommuters:
1. Telecommuting Brings More Opportunities
“There are so many people that are not in big cities, or they’re not around opportunities that work with their skill sets,” Donovan says. “The great part about telecommuting is that you can be in Macon, Georgia; you can be in the Florida Keys; You can be in downtown L.A. [Wherever you are], you have the ability to apply for and work at jobs that are anywhere in the country. It really opens up new freedoms and opportunities.”
2. Telecommuting Allows Older Workers to Demonstrate Their Value
“Every age we’ve had, whether it’s the Industrial Age or the Information Age, workers have had to adjust, or they’d become less relevant,” Donovan says. “I think the beauty of telecommuting is it allows people to learn to adjust with their minds, instead of their physical bodies. People no longer have to rely on the advantages of youth.”
Thanks to simple online learning portals, like Lynda.com, even those baby boomers who aren’t terribly tech-savvy can learn the tech skills they need to telecommute.
“Not only will this make them more valuable as employees, but it will also expand their opportunities,” Donovan says. “It allows them to do something highly skilled and highly paid.”
3. Telecommuting Lets Baby Boomers Work From Home
As baby boomers age, they may face mobility problems. They may have disabilities that limit their ability to get around, or they may simply want to do away with long commutes.
“Telecommuting immediately takes all of those things away and allows you to work from the comfort of your own home,” Donovan says.
4. Scratch That — Telecommuting Lets Baby Boomers Work From Anywhere
“These are your golden years!” Donovan says. “Maybe you want to see the country. Maybe you want to drive an R.V. across the states. Telecommuting allows you to work from wherever you are and not be tied down to a specific location because of a job.”
Telecommuting Need Not Be Difficult
Telecommuting is tremendously popular with millennials, but while the baby boomers were growing up, it wasn’t a common work arrangement. Because of this, some boomers may feel hesitant about making the switch to telecommuting. Donovan says fretful boomers don’t have to worry: becoming a telecommuter can be a painless process.
“Start by going to some of the job boards, like Elance and oDesk,” Donovan suggests. “Also, set up a consultation with a local recruiting firm to get a better understanding of your skills and what you may need to brush up on, whether that’s understanding the different types of Web servers or using social media.”
Once baby boomers know whether they need to acquire new skills or reinforce old ones, they can take the appropriate steps to firm up their capabilities and enter the telecommuting world ready for success.