Right now, options for working as a baby boomer—independent of the traditional employer—are exploding. For the first time in recorded history, people don’t have to go where the work is, it can come to them.
And while this has been the case to a degree for the last 20 years, the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus-prompted “social distancing” are jump-starting a new era for remote working, according to the International Living report. It’s a global change, the report argues, which will have-long-standing effects not only on the way people work—but on the way they retire as well.
“Portable work has been a trend for two decades—it brought flexibility and freedom to those who learned how to take their skills online,” says Winton Churchill, creator of 21 Days to Freelancing Success Abroad and an expert in educating Baby Boomers about ways they can translate their past career experience into flexible, portable income-generating work online.
“But we’re seeing a radical adaptation right now,” Churchill argues. Business-travel options have disappeared overnight. Airlines are downsizing, hotels are suddenly seeing a tsunami of cancelled reservations. The importance of ‘being there’ has suddenly given way to working virtually over the internet with voice, video, email and collaboration.
Corporations and large organizations who felt employees needed to be in one big building are having to find ways to make it easy for their employees to work from home. And they’re discovering it’s more tenable than they ever imagined.
At the same time, many Baby Boomers who felt they were prepared financially for retirement have suddenly found their portfolios have taken a hit as markets have tanked and they may, in addition, be helping family members and friends who are unexpectedly displaced.
“It’s not just working habits that will change,” Churchill argues. “Finding new ways to relax, unwind, and de-stress are going to challenge Baby Boomers to change habits and adapt in part to online versions of all those activities.”
This pandemic is going to force Baby Boomers to master their remote-computing skills—and that’s a good thing, according to Churchill.
“Too many Boomers felt they could coast across the finish line of retirement without having to really master this ‘technical stuff,’” Churchill says. “No more. To stay connected and earning, the Boomer workforce will need to up their game and show up fully capable of being able to work remotely.”
For more retirees, earning an income of some sort is going to be important—well into their retirement years. But it is, arguably, the best time in history to be in that position of needing funds, because—like never before—earning can (as businesses are proving in real time) be done on flexible, portable terms.
And the current shift we’re seeing in the way people are working will open the door to greater acceptance of remote work over the long term.
“No question: Boomers will have to get serious about learning to self-educate with tools like YouTube,” says Churchill. “We will have to get really good at using search engines—like Google—in a sophisticated way so we get good answers….not just lots of answers.
“We will have to learn to advocate, effectively, for ourselves using technology. Sometimes when people are working virtually they can become invisible. Now they will want to learn how to show up in ways that they stay connected, relevant, and relied on.
In other words, Baby Boomers will have to embrace technology—but they’ll be doing it in a climate that offers a lot of opportunity for those who do.
“What’s occurred over the last few weeks will change in fundamental ways the way we work,” Churchill says. “Piling hundreds to thousands of employees into large buildings just became obsolete—more or less overnight.
“Employers have had to find new ways to work closer to home, in smaller teams, using great technology. This will become the ‘new’ office norm. And that creates opportunities for all sorts of people who have marketable skills but aren’t located ‘where the job is.’”
Retirees who understand this can bring their decades of experience and know-how to a world of online earning and find new ways to generate funds well into their retirement years, working from the comfort of home, in a way that enhances their quality of life.