The Semi-Retirement: Working Part-Time in Your Golden Years


For many boomers, their retirement picture includes working.

Whether it’s for financial, health or social reasons, baby boomers will remain a sizable proportion of the workforce in the years ahead, with many expecting to work well into their 70s. After all, with our life expectancy continuing to improve, many of us could face 30 years of retirement—that requires hefty savings.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 40% of the U.S, workforce will be comprised of work-from-home labor by 2020, and baby boomers are jumping on the band wagon. Being able to work from home means having more control of your work schedule, eliminating the hassles and expense of commuting and being able to spend more time with the family.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, Arise Virtual Solutions, one of the country’s largest work-from-home networks, experienced a surge in the number of seniors taking part in its work-from-home network to help supplement their now depleted retirement savings.

I spoke with John Meyer, CEO of Arise Virtual Solutions, and he offered the following tips for boomers leaving their full-time  job behind to work from home. Here is what he had to say:

Boomer: What are some ways older baby boomers can continue to bring in income when they leave their full-time job?

Meyer: Baby boomers are retiring quickly: From 2000 to 2011, the 65 and older population grew 18% to 41.4 million senior citizens, according to a recent Administration of Aging Report. Yet, as baby boomers continue to retire, it may not be to their benefit. They are facing more risks retiring today than past generations. Previous generations could rely on benefit plans or pension plans to provide a steady monthly income. Now, because of the last economic recession, baby boomers can no longer solely rely on their pension plans, 401(k)s or retirement accounts because they are still recovering.

Instead, baby boomers are looking for sustainable additional income as they retire and leave their full time jobs. However, this additional income should be able to be obtained without being constrained by a 9-5 job. Crowdsourcing can be a great opportunity for baby boomers looking  to continue working in the disciplines they’ve worked in for the last several decades (for instance, finance, tech support, sales) but part-time, from home and maintaining work-life balance. These types of opportunities allow baby boomers to be entrepreneurs, solopreneurs or independent contractors.

There are already many crowdsourcing initiatives that have a structured virtual network with countless opportunities. For example, our network is comprised of tens of thousands of work-from-home independent business owners and entrepreneurs who have the chance to service some of the world’s most admired brands at their leisure.  As their own boss, boomers can set their own hours, pick their own projects and work on what they want to work on.

Boomer: What are the costs associated with beginning a work from home career and potential earnings for seniors?

Monetary: With any work-from-home opportunity, having a standard computer, high-speed internet and home working office is essential. Some companies even require it. If a retiree is starting a small business/work-at-home operation, he or she will also have to make a small investment to set up a corporate entity. At Arise we require our work-at-home small business owners to have the following:

•        Background check

•        High-speed internet

•        Phone equipment

•        Client Certification course

     Self-Discipline and accountability

We have found that people who make a financial investment in their future are more productive, motivated and are higher performers. This small investment ranges anywhere between $100-$500, depending on the type of computer equipment the personal already has available.

Earnings: Retirees have the opportunity to earn unlimited income depending on the work-at-home opportunity they pursue. At Arise, our projects pay anywhere from $9-$30 per hour. Work-from-home opportunities also allow baby boomers to significantly reduce the expenses they would otherwise incur when working outside the home. Examples of expense that are reduced, and in many cases eliminated, are as follows:

•        Hassle and loss of productivity due to commuting

•        Car insurance

•        Car Wear & Tear (e.g. miles, tires, maintenance)

•        Gas

•        Dry Cleaning

Boomer: How can baby boomers work from home part time and still maintain their retirement lifestyle?

Meyer: With the rise of mobile technology and virtualization, the best entrepreneurial work-at-home opportunities afford retirees the luxury of scheduling work when they want it; what they want to work on; and of course, where they want to work, which accommodates the retiree lifestyle.

The beauty of working from home is that baby boomers set their own hours and can work as much or as little as they need to supplement their income.

Boomer: What are some hurdles that baby boomers should expect to face?

Meyer: Constant advancements in technology are perceived as one of the bigger challenges that telecommuting baby boomers face.  Younger generations are programmed from an early age to interface with and master fairly sophisticated hardware and software programs. If baby boomers are patient and embrace technology, then they will be just as successful as the younger generations.

Certainly, among the most crucial areas are being able to troubleshoot basic computing obstacles, efficiently navigating the internet, and adapting to ever-changing technological improvements. We have seen baby boomers, just like the younger generations, can leverage the same self-help tools, YouTube videos and blogs that are readily available to help solve the most common challenges faced.

Boomer: Do older workers face any prejudices when they want to work from home?

Meyer: People sometimes perceive baby boomers as not being as technologically savvy when compared to younger generations. However, recent studies say this prejudice is perhaps underserved.  While organizations are understandably wary of older applicants’ technological skills, these potential employers tend to overvalue this single quality.

Research from Wharton School of Business professor Peter Cappelli showed that younger generations tend to trail their more-experienced coworkers in organization, sense of community purpose, but most importantly—responsibility. Baby boomers carry a lifetime of workplace experience, a fact that fosters better relationships with colleagues, a more reliable workforce and a stronger empathy during interaction with clients.