The power virtual workplace for an older workforce

By Dean van Leeuwen 

People are living longer and healthier lives. This is a good thing because most baby boomers have not amassed enough savings to retire as early as their parents and parents did. But even if they have the savings for decades-long retirement many baby boomers still want to contribute and add value to the workplace, both for financial reasons and because work provides stimulation and satisfaction. With the age of retirement abolished, or being abolished in many countries, the question becomes how can employers best utilise older workers’ talents and take advantage of increasingly age diverse workforce’s?

Studies reveal that employers cite two concerns in their lack of enthusiasm for older workers: costs and sluggish productivity. However, evidence equally shows these liabilities are exaggerated, while older people’s strengths are generally undervalued. In the knowledge economy, brute workforce is no longer a necessity and older people are as likely to be college-educated as their young colleagues.

Young workers typically learn new tasks faster and are more technologically savvy, relatively open and energetic, entering the workforce with optimism, idealism and aspiration to succeed. On the flip side younger workers often lack loyalty and display a tendency to job hop before sufficient experience has been garnered. In contrast, the typical 60-something worker is healthy, experienced and less starry-eyed about their positions, and willing to stay the course longer than other age groups. They care increasingly about meaningful contributions and less about advancement. Older workers also have an edge in as they take fewer sick days. All of this bodes well for flexible and remote work arrangements which can help reduce costs as many older workers are eager to exchange high salaries for flexible schedules and phased retirements.

Rather than seek or manage workers towards retirement, virtual working can offer solutions to both employers and older employees. Here are seven benefits of virtual working:

  • Lower workplace costs
  • Retaining access to knowledge and experience that disappears when employees retire
  • Fewer unnecessary meetings
  • Reduced travel and commuting time
  • Retain loyal staff
  • Contribute to healthier staff
  • No exhausting and stressful commutes

A promising and able workforce resource lies in allowing older workers to work remotely. Rather than retiring workers allowing them to contribute longer and reduce costs through virtual work arrangements should become a serious option for future facing companies.