Older Workers & Flex Jobs

All I need to do is look at my own family members to note the trends driving workplace changes over the past 3 decades. Many of these changes can benefit older workers.

We now know that younger workers with young children are negotiating more flexible working conditions with their employers. Work-life balance is a priority to them.  My nephew works and lives in Sweden where parental leave is 480 days which can be shared by both parents as they chose. In addition, parents can still receive up to 80% of their original salary for 390 days, and then a flat rate after that.  There is also a minimum period of three months’ non-transferrable leave for each parent within the 480 days,  Sweden’s support for parents does not stop at infancy: they can also take up to 120 days leave per year to care for children under the age of 12.  His wife (my niece) shares her job with a co-worker.

My other niece operates a multi media production company from her home office in Toronto. Her clients fly her all over the world to attend shows and produce/direct media extravaganzas.  During the summer months, she leaves the big city and works at her art studio in a small village near Georgian Bay. She returns to Toronto in September.

My son works 7 months during the high tourist season in Europe and returns home to serve clients as a remote worker. He tells me that 39% of businesses in Germany allow people to work from home offices and four out of five German companies already offer flexible working schedules to those who need or want them.

The many changes in the workforce can extend career opportunities past the traditional age of retirement.  Many older adults wish to maintain a connection to the workforce and seek remote, freelance and flex jobs, or permanent part-time and seasonal employment. After retiring from a full time career in government, my cousin installed a commercial kitchen in her home to supply local restaurants and coffee shops with her home-baked breads, muffins, cakes and cookies.

My friend Carole, goes to Florida each winter and comes back to the same seasonal employment position. She sets up and manages a large garden centre May through December. When Christmas is over, she gets on a plane and flies off to her art community on the Gulf Coast.  While she’s away, she keeps up with her co-workers through monthly Skype meetings. Carole can maintain her provincial health insurance by scheduling her work responsibilities around her 7 month employment calendar.

In my workshops I tell my brother’s story. He took an early retirement, got bored and went back to work as a supervisor for the same employer, on a flexible contract basis.  After 10 years, he finally said “Enough!”  His proclamation didn’t stop his employers from calling him to come back as an occasional trainer.  After he turned 70, he remained firm with the decision to disengage.

  • These changing workplace trends for both genders, the needs of employers and our changing perceptions of retirement will result in more Age Friendly workplaces. For more information about my pre-retirement planning presentations and workshops, contact getkathysmith@gmail.com
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