As more employees move out of the office, Baby Boomers have some new factors to consider when reaching retirement.
Remote work is sweeping the enterprise, with 72% of IT professionals now working remotely at least once per week, according to Igloo Software's 2019 State of the Digital Workplace report. This increasingly popular work style will soon become the new norm, as 73% of all teams will have remote workers in the next decade.
SEE: Working remotely: A professional's guide to the essential tools (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Employees generally enjoy working away from the office—some 75% of remote workers said they don't plan on ever going back to the old way of work. However, "it wasn't too many years ago when you told a colleague you were 'working from home,' they would look at you with one eyebrow raised," said Terry Simpson, technical evangelist at Nintex.
"In today's workplace, it is very common to have full time work from home employees and even have regular office employees work from home a few days a week. Working from home provides a great work/life balance to all employees in the organization," he added.
Working remotely presents a variety of benefits including more productivity, better accessibility to family, less office politics, and higher retention rates, Simpson said. The flexibility of remote work has completely changed the way people live their lives, said a recent LogMeIn survey, allowing people to take new employment opportunities regardless of location.
Remote work has also changed the way companies recruit and hire. With remote work eliminating the need for local talent, the normal talent pool becomes a talent ocean, providing companies with exponentially more candidates.
As Generation Z floods the workforce in the next decade, five generations of employees will share the working world. By 2028, more than half (58%) of the workforce will be made up by younger generations such as Gen Z and Millennials, according to a recent Upwork report.
However, Gen Zers are digital natives, with technology being an integral part of their lives and formal education, giving them a much more technologically-savvy skillset than older generations. This skillset will undoubtedly prove useful as office jobs are exchanged for remote positions, but where does that leave Baby Boomers?
Baby Boomers, or individuals born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s, are reaching retirement age, if they haven't already. While they may not have the same caliber of technical skills as Gen Zers, remote work does present them with a unique opportunity to continue working.
"Working from home is going to have one of two outcomes," said Simpson. "In many ways, working from home could extend their employment out further due to the flexibility and quality of life of working from home provides. This allows the baby boomer to get a few more years of income and savings in the bank. On the flip side, it could accelerate retirement plans as they get a taste of not having to do the daily routine of the commute and activities related to 'going to work' every day."
Remote work isn't going to necessarily force Baby Boomers to retire, said Shane Metcalf, chief culture officer and co-founder of 15Five. "The only way that they'll be excluded is if they don't know how to use tools like Zoom and Slack, which are incredibly intuitive," he said. The decision of whether or not to embrace remote work is really dependent on the individual.
How to decide if remote work in retirement is right for you
Senior workers considering retirement or a change of pace should examine the changes their company has gone through in recent years that they have already adapted to, said Jayne Mattson, senior vice president of Keystone Associates.
If you look at the changes your company is making and are thinking "gee, my company is going even more remote, even more with technology, even less with that face-to-face—that's really not for me. Maybe it's time for me to move on," said Mattson. If the older employee doesn't see themselves being able to adapt to that kind of work, then it may be time to go, she added.
But if the employee isn't quite ready to go and is intrigued by the new technology, then they should embrace it and stay up-to-date. Baby Boomers should especially create a network of young professionals in the workplace to learn from, Mattson said.
"Although a lot of Baby Boomers don't understand it, you need to develop a network of younger people. You absolutely need to, because they are the people that are going to hire you," said Mattson. "Therefore, you need to get a network, because you need to understand what their needs and wants are in the market since they're going to hire you and you're going to work with them."
By connecting with younger people, Baby Boomers can exchange skills: Interpersonal and relationship-building skills for current tech skills, said Mattson.
At the end of the day, "If you don't stay current in your career, if you don't stay current in what's going on in the world of work, regardless of whether you're a Baby Boomer or Generation Y or X, they're gonna say you're no longer a fit for this company," Mattson noted.
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