Almost everybody, it seems, would prefer to work from home -- including boomers. In fact, 36 percent of all workers said they would choose the ability to work from home over a pay raise and 80 percent call working from home "a major perk," according to Global Workplace Analytics.
Telecommuting has pretty much been heralded as the greatest thing to alter the shape of the modern workplace and it is frequently touted as the best cost-saving, stress-reducing, environment-sparing benefit that packs the greatest wallop for workers.
Except for midlifers. Here are some of the problems unique to midlifers who try working from home:
1. The UPS guy always comes to the door when you are bra-less.
When you work at home, there is no dressing for success. Many days, there is no dressing, period. We know one freelancer who does a lot of interviews via Skype; she dresses from the waist up. Full makeup, professional blouse, and torn sweatpants on the bottom.
Many older workers have spent the bulk of their work lives getting dressed in the morning and going into an office. Maybe it's just the association between a tie (or heels) and work, but somewhere in their brains a connection has been made. They enter their home office in slippers and it always feels like Saturday. Plus yeah, the UPS guy always seems to ring the bell when you are sans bra. Ain't it the truth?
2. Avon keeps calling.
Actually, the only people who still call landline phones are scammers -- not even Avon, but we just can't get that old jingle out of our heads and now you won't be able to either.
Seriously, older people are the primary targets of phone scammers, according to the FBI, and thus, their phones ring more. It's annoying and interrupts their concentration and their ability to work in a focused fashion.
Why are older people the targets and why are they getting so many of these calls? The FBI says that seniors are the most likely to have a nest egg. And so, just like what Willie Sutton responded when asked why he robbed banks, the answer is "because that's where the money is."
There is another reason too: People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were taught to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is hard for older people to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
The end result is that even though you know it's just another scammer violating the Do Not Call Registry, you answer the phone anyway. If you are speaking to a client on the phone, you feel a sense of panic when call-waiting clicks in; could it be someone important trying to reach you? No, of course not. It's just the "IRS" telling you you need to call them right away.
All of which is to say, your phone starts ringing off the hook around your 50th birthday and when it does, your focus and ability to accomplish anything at home may get impacted.
3. Older workers prefer to color within the lines.
Working from home is a relatively new thing -- an offshoot of the age of technology. Computers and smart phones allow us to do our work from wherever we are. Whether we work in the office or at the dining room table, we are at work.
Boomers were raised with a different mindset and prefer to have a line -- a boundary, if you will -- between things that are personal and things that are work-related. Younger workers, on the other hand, have no issue with blurring the line between work and play.
How does this manifest itself when boomers work from home? When a midlifer is working from home, she is treated by the family as if she is free to drive Grandma to her doctor's appointment, fix the kids a snack when they get home, and do the laundry between phone meetings. "Home" is where family things go down; the "office" is where the paid employment occurs.
4. Loneliness is a factor.
Working remotely can cause you to feel isolated, maybe even cause bouts of the blues. The Centers for Disease Control says older adults are already at an increased risk for experiencing depression. Mental Health America says even though people 65 and older are just 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 20 percent of all suicide deaths.
Toiling alone in a room all day with no one to talk to doesn't work for everyone.
5. The important people still need to go in.
Boomers tend to hold the more senior and management positions within a company. When you're the boss, working from home doesn't always work out so well for you. Another reason that midlifers might want to work from the office: You don't want to be out of sight, out of mind. Many midlifers fear that they will be targeted in a layoff. And it's always easier to can the guy you don't really know or see very often.
So readers, what do you say? Do the pluses of working from home outweigh the negatives?
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