The rise in the gig economy [link to previous article] has not just affected millennials – it’s had a significant impact on the baby boomer generation as well, especially retirees. In fact, a 2016 joint report from Harvard and Princeton universities revealed that older workers – those aged 55 to 75 – have experienced the most dramatic rise in alternative work arrangements in the gig economy.The rise in the gig economy has not just affected millennials – it’s had a significant impact on the baby boomer generation as well, especially retirees. In fact, a 2016 joint report from Harvard and Princeton universities revealed that older workers – those aged 55 to 75 – have experienced the most dramatic rise in alternative work arrangements in the gig economy.
Why exactly are retirees flocking to the gig economy to extend their careers? There are a number of factors to consider, but there are two primary influencers. Firstly people are, either by choice or circumstance, working later into life, and secondly, the gig economy is the perfect arena in which to use and expand their expertise.
People Are Working Longer
More than one in three American workers aged 65 to 69 worked part-time gigs in 2013. Struggling economies, paired with increasing life expectancy and health concerns, have prompted many retirees the world over to seek career opportunities beyond the traditional retirement age.
Another reason that workers have been forced to delay retirement is the fact that they can’t afford it. For example, again in the United States, escalating healthcare costs, poor savings practices (roughly one in three American workers have no retirement savings), and a weakened Social Security trust has put retirement more and more out of reach for many. More than a third of all American workers are now expected to work through retirement.
Despite having to work during retirement, seniors are faring quite well in the gig economy. According to reports:
- Nearly a quarter of Uber drivers are over 50 years old.
- Airbnb’s most successful hosts are women over age 60.
- Roughly 40% of workers aged 53 to 64 are employed in the gig economy.
While delayed retirement may not seem like a desirable option on its surface, many older gig economy employees opt to pursue freelance work because it allows them to demonstrate their expertise, while also broadening their horizons.
Because most workers who have reached retirement age are likely coming off a decades-long career – perhaps multiple careers – they provide a valuable source of accumulated knowledge and skills that can significantly benefit the next generation. And while the corporate sphere may value youth over such insights, there are plenty of people – both consumers and professionals alike – willing to pay for online services.
This has allowed retired workers to effectively tap into their robust skills and knowledge base and provide services, one-on-one directly with clients. Thanks to advancements in digital technology, professionals can also offer these services across international borders and tap a network of clients who were not previously available.
While not contemplating retirement, my business, Kerry Finch Writing, is a classic example of how the gig economy works. My clients engage me by the gig (though most of these are recurring monthly gigs), and I employ my unbelievably talented team of writers by the gig as well. Some of my team have been writing for me for eight years! It works for them, and it works for me.
Importantly though, my business model allows me to work from wherever I happen to be – and in the last 12 months that has been from my home office, at airports, hotels, other people’s homes – in Australia, China, and Indonesia. If I am away for several weeks in remote areas, I can schedule my work so that it is delivered before I leave, or have the team working while I am away, to be delivered on my return.
If I am ever overwhelmed by requests, I can decline the jobs I don’t want to do and scale back whenever I feel the need.
For me, embracing the gig economy has delivered lifestyle benefits that a job as a regular employee could not have.
Would your lifestyle benefit by freeing up the amount of time you spend at work or labour intensive chores at home? Perhaps you should look on Airtasker for someone to do a few hours in the garden, or someone to come in and spring clean your house.
If writing the content for your business website is challenging, then you should contact me to find out how I can help you with this gig!