Social Security may kick in at some point in our 60s, but for many Americans, 60 is the new 40.
Whether you credit advances in healthcare or blame a combination of economic recessions and poor retirement planning, older Americans are remaining in—and returning to—the workforce at a rate that makes them the fastest-growing labor pool in the U.S., according to AARP.
But just because Baby Boomers are going back to work doesn’t mean they’re all returning to traditional 9-to-5 roles. With remote work, growing your income doesn’t need to look like long commutes and brick-and-mortar offices.
Here are six reasons why remote work works for older professionals, too:
1. Choose where you work
Remote jobs allow professionals in a variety of fields to work from just about anywhere. For some, the best part about this location flexibility is simply cutting the commute, which costs U.S. workers an average of nearly half an hour each day, or nine days every year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by CNBC. Instead of spending hours each week navigating through highway congestion, you can spend this saved time with loved ones or on hobbies you enjoy.
But that’s not the only perk of location independence: without a job tying you down, you’re free to travel the country, seeing the sights and visiting family while still earning an income. Set aside a few hours a day at a location with a WiFi hotspot and you’re good to go.
2. Set your own schedule
Many virtual jobs, like tutoring and freelance writing, allow you to create your own schedule; however, even remote employers who require more traditional hours tend to encourage flexibility. Depending on the role, this could mean you get to choose which shift you work or which days you take off, making it easier for you to plan trips to the gym or doctor’s office and ensuring you can be there for every one of your grandkids’ school recitals and baseball games.
3. Take care of loved ones
Along those lines, as many as 2.7 million grandparents were serving as their grandchildren’s primary caregiver in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and since 1970, the percentage of grandparents with this responsibility has doubled. But though serving as a caretaker can be rewarding, it can be isolating—and pricey. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed in 2015 that raising a child in the U.S. can cost roughly $233,610 through age 17.
Remote work can help you recuperate some of these expenses and provide an income for your family without forcing you to leave grandchildren with a sitter or loved ones who may need you alone for hours during the day. In addition, working a virtual job can ease some of the isolation that comes with being at home all the time; you’ll spend your days collaborating with experienced colleagues on projects that you can feel proud of, all while earning a little extra cash while you’re at it.
4. Take advantage of a results-oriented work environment
While we all wish it didn’t exist, the sad truth is that age discrimination is still a problem in the modern American workplace. A 2018 survey by AARP found that “[n]early 2 out of 3 workers ages 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job,” and as more members of Generation Z enter the workforce, the issue only continues to compound.
Thankfully, many remote employers are focused on one thing: results. After decades in the industry, you likely know the ins and outs of the job, meaning you can do it quickly and accurately, impressing your employers. If you end up with extra time, you can even use it to mentor younger professionals and boost your rapport in the workplace.
5. Supplement Social Security
While any sustained monthly income during retirement is nothing to scoff at, Social Security isn’t what it used to be. Those receiving benefits from the program can expect to receive an average of just over $1,500 in 2020, according to a report from The Motley Fool, which means if you’re relying on Social Security as your main source of income—as a growing number of Americans are, according to Gallup polling—you’ll likely need something to supplement it.
Choosing a remote job allows you to continue doing the things you love in your retirement years while still enjoying an extra check (or two) each month—and in the modern digital workplace, it’s no challenge to find a role that falls in line with your skills and experience. For instance, former educators can work as remote tutors or teachers, and those with prior business experience may excel as telecommute financial planners or business analysts.
6. Stay at home
If struggling to get from one place to another is keeping you from a more traditional job, you’re not alone. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2014 that trouble with mobility is the most common disability among older Americans. But remote jobs can provide an avenue to work for those with limited mobility or who simply prefer staying at home.
Sites like My Employment Options and [email protected] are great resources that can provide options for people with disabilities looking for remote employment. The Social Security Administration also provides a free list of job resources catered specifically toward jobseekers with disabilities.
I’ve always been a strong advocate for remote work, but working professionals with decades of experience under their belts can particularly benefit from flexible work arrangements—as can their employers. After all, who better to show young team members the ropes?