Right now, older workers are trying to make some decisions about their future careers and asking a number of important questions. Can I continue to work onsite? Maybe it’s time to retire? Or should I think about transitioning to an encore career? These are all very valid. There’s one other question to consider: Is it possible that remote work might help me achieve my retirement goals?
I recently listened to The Retirement Wisdom podcast, “Can Working Remotely Beat Ageism?”. The guest for this episode was Kerry Hannon, author of the book “Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working from Home”. I will admit that the title of the podcast gave me a bit of discomfort. As a human resources professional, I hate the fact that ageism exists. But the realist in me understands that it does. And sadly, that it’s not going away overnight.
In the podcast, Hannon says that one of the biggest benefits to working from home is beating ageism. For organizations and individuals. Organizations can have older professionals work remotely and not worry about whether that person fits in with the younger members of the team. Older workers can benefit from being evaluated on their performance results and not how they look or act.
Again, let me say that I hate, hate, hate ageism. And I particularly hate that Hannon’s remarks have some truth in them. But instead of thinking about remote work as a way to beat ageism, is there a way to think of remote work as part of a phased retirement strategy? Organizations benefit because they are able to keep skilled workers longer. Older workers can benefit by being able to still contribute while (possibly) downsizing to their forever home, commute less so they can fulfill caregiving responsibilities, and continue to save for their financial future.
But working remotely doesn’t mean easier work. If you’re intrigued by the idea of using remote work as part of your phased retirement strategy, here are a few things to consider:
Do you want to be an employee or a freelancer? One of the first things you have to decide is how you want to pursue remote work. If you’re working for an organization that allows working from home, then great – you could be set. And if you don’t or you’re currently looking for a new job, do you want to make remote work one of your job must-haves?
Do you have enough workspace? I mentioned earlier that part of your retirement strategy might be moving to a smaller home. If you’re planning to work from home, do you have the space to do it? In our last home, Keith worked in the dining room. With our new house, he has his own space and that’s important.
Can you setup your workspace with equipment and technology? Once you have a designated workspace, you’ll need to think about what it takes to be productive. When we work in an office, we take for granted that we will have a desk, chair, and computer equipment. With high-speed internet. Getting the remote work office setup you want could involve spending some of your own money.
Are your skills current? I believe working from home involves some different skills. A couple that immediately come to mind are technology and time management. You’ll want to take an inventory of your skills and decide if there are any you want to update or add. And you’ll want to find ways to gain those skills while working from home. If you’re accustomed to taking a class at your worksite, now you might read a book or take an online program.
Are you mentally and emotionally ready? I’ve worked from home for over a decade. Socializing is different. You don’t have people to collaborate with all the time. There are distractions and temptations all the time. Some of them are fun (like cute panda videos) and then there’s doomscrolling. You have to figure out how to not snack all day and when you’re going to exercise. All of this contributes to the work from home experience.
Regardless of what’s going on with the pandemic, remote work has been increasing in popularity for quite some time. Is it possible to take advantage of a growing trend and make it a part of your retirement strategy? Possibly, but it takes planning so you’re ready when the opportunity presents itself.