Going to work?

West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (...

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I’m grateful to Jon Pollard for this..

Employment in the UK has risen by 296,000 since the start of 2010, and 75% of those jobs – or 222,000 – have gone to people over 50. Just under 44% of the jobs have gone to the 3% of workers over 65. For comparison, the number of 16-17 year olds in work has fallen by nearly 8% over the same period, while the number of working 18-24 year olds has been more or less flat (in urban areas the unemployment rate amongst 16-24 year olds is running at 20%, which is desperate). Many employers seem to be adopting the B&Q approach (a firm who predominantly recruit older workers). Their view is that older people have normally undertaken the responsibility of raising families, paid mortgages and held down responsible jobs for many years – and as such are more likely to be more reliable than their youthful job-seeking rivals. Maybe the employment opportunities are now swinging in favour of the older worker.

This idea of reliability is important. In the olden days we measure reliability by attendance but I think the measure is changing to productivity. Do we mind if an employee is seldom seen in the office if his or her output is on or above target?

Indeed the very term “going to work” has for many of us become obsolete, work comes to us, we deal with it as we go about our daily activities.

I give myself targets for the week , things that I must get done, things that I’d like to get done and a great big bag of time for the unknowns that could be described as opportunity.

Like many others, I do not sit in a physical or virtual production line. Workflow processes sit ill with my work style which I check for efficiency;

Time in car/tube –  inefficient I can only receive information , I cannot interact (even with hands free communication)

Time on train/bus – semi efficient; not an ideal working environment due to interruption .

Time with people (whether colleagues/clients/prospective clients) highly efficient.

Time at home (pretty-efficient) on-line but not fully interactive

Lesson for me, spend as little time travelling, as much of the time interacting –  priorities meetings but use home for as much non-face to face work as possible. Where does an office come into it – a meeting place but no more.

Lesson  for me – I do not need to go to work – work needs to come to me.

Maybe by not going to work, I am going to go on working for longer. Would I feel this confident if I was younger? IF you told me to organise myself this way as an 18 year old I suspect I would screw up. Certainly I  valued communal workplaces more in the early years of my career.

So maybe workplaces need to be places of training for youngsters where the role of older employees is to pass on experience. Maybe older employees – of which I must now class myself one – need to think of work less in terms of 9 to 5 and more to do with throughputs – achieving self-defined goals.

The words that define the value of the older worker become “independence” and “reliability”. The value of  our going to work is to share experience rather than to be monitored.

The words that define the value of the younger worker are “energy” and “originality” but younger people seem to have a higher requirement for formal working structures (going to work).

The B and Q experience is of older people stacking shelves – this is the wrong deployment of older people who are least equipped for this kind of thing. We should be looking to release our older workers to train up the youth and deploy their reliability and independence the way they see best. That may not require them going to work.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Going to work?

  1. Andrew Horner says:

    Going to work I have plenty of exercise (ten miles each way by bicycle), drink water and eat fruit.

    Working at home I have no exercise, drink coffee and eat biscuits.

    Working at home is great for productivity but terrible for health!

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