How the Workplace is Changing for Workers Over 40

Workers aged 40 years and older are at the forefront of one of the biggest disruptions of the labor market in U.S. history.

How we work continues to change, and Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers may stand to benefit. Workplace trends show an increase in the use of artificial intelligence (AI), more opportunities for skilled older workers, and an increase in location-independent jobs. What’s more, the gig economy is expected to grow to an estimated 100 million freelance workers by 2030.

Where we work continues to evolve as well. Workloads—and remote employees—are increasingly managed through virtual computing environments hosted in the cloud. This new trend toward agile, lean work strategies allows more employees to work anywhere, anytime, while staying connected to managers and clients through mobile devices and other applications.

Mobile work is the new norm, and workers seem to love it. Two-thirds of workers want to work remotely, 36% would choose it over a pay raise, and 80% consider ‘telework’ a job perk. Employers who adopt and implement mobile workforce management solutions are better positioned to recruit, retain, and develop mobile workers while saving money on office space and tech equipment.

Workplace Trends Affecting Baby Boomers and Generation X

There are three primary forces driving workplace trends and the future of work, particularly for older workers:

  1. Demographics: High birth rates in the U.S. from the 1940s through the early 1960s gave rise to the baby boomer generation, and an influx of educated, skilled workers entered the marketplace. Birth rates slowed down in the late 1970s through the 1980s—the years forming Generation X—resulting in fewer workers. As baby boomers begin to retire, there is an expected shortage of workers in years to come.
  2. Automation: The robots may not be coming to take over the universe, but automation is expected to displace many workers. By 2050 artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to change, if not replace, up to 50% of the workforce. Manual labor jobs will be hit hardest by the first waves of AI, while jobs that require the “human touch”—such as customer service, medical care, and other roles—will be enhanced by AI in new and innovative ways.
  3. Inequality: As automation and AI take on a bigger role in the workplace, highly skilled and highly compensated workers stand to benefit the most—and middle-income and low-income families may benefit the least. As highly skilled workers become more scarce, their incomes are pushed even higher (relative to lesser-skilled workers), increasing income inequality.

While these trends may be troubling for some workers, there is plenty of evidence that new technology—including AI—will bring more flexibility and longevity to older workers.

Benefits of New Technology For Workers Over 40

New technology that enables remote work is immensely popular with older workers who want more flexible hours, less time spent commuting to work, and better work-life balance. The potential benefits of new workplace technology includes:

  • Decreased age discrimination: As the workforce slowly dwindles, companies will have an incentive to retain their existing skilled workers. Companies will consider skills training and more flexible work schedules for existing workers, rather than replacing employees who need a new work arrangement.  
  • Increased acceptance of non-traditional learning: The traditional four-year college degree was a gateway to employment in the past, but as the workforce changes, companies are more willing to accept online programs, virtual training, and other development paths. These new, more flexible education programs will make it easier for older workers to adapt to new responsibilities, as well as helping younger workers get in the door in the first place.  
  • Increased need for skilled workers: It is estimated the half-life of a learned skill is 5 years and shrinking. As technology changes, it affects the needs of employers—and the skill sets needed by employees in order to excel at work. Employees who take the time to learn new skills and participate in new programs will stay relevant in the workplace, giving them a key advantage.
  • More telecommuting opportunities: Fierce competition for skilled workers will encourage companies to offer flexible work arrangements and non-standard employment offers. Employees are very interested in these flexible arrangements; in fact, a survey of 2000 employees found 80% would take a contract position if it gave them more of what they wanted. Employers will need to offer a mix of flexibility, compensation, and benefits to compete for top talent.

Companies that hire and retain older workers reap substantial benefits. HR professionals report that older workers are more loyal, more engaged, have less turnover, and are more productive than their younger coworkers.

Skedulo Supports Mobile Workers

More and more businesses are finding success not in the office, but out in the field. As more companies adopt a mobile work mentality, it gives rise to new management techniques and technology.

Mobile workforce management software helps businesses communicate with and monitor location-independent workers in real-time, from any device. It provides a seamless thread of connectivity throughout the organization, and an integrated, central system for all of a company’s data.

Work is changing, and Skedulo is built to keep up with businesses that are constantly on the move. Book a demo today to see how Skedulo can help you manage a dynamic mobile workforce and compete in today’s tech-driven world.