Working from home has several advantages, particularly when it’s done strategically. People from the Boomers and Gen X age ranges are discovering that they can be highly productive when they work from home.
If you happen to be a professional in middle age (or post-middle age), this brief guide can help you achieve profound success while working remotely.
Why Are Gen X and Boomer Generations Successful Working at Home?
Many factors contribute to someone’s success at working from home – such as their personal work ethic, their job, and its requirements, their home environment, and their ability to adapt to new situations.
Additionally, the concept of “working from home” has become increasingly popular and more accepted in recent years, which may make it easier for people of all generations to be successful at it.
Ultimately, the success of any individual working from home will depend on their own unique circumstances and abilities; however, it may be that Gen X and Boomers are so successful at working from home simply because they have more life experience than younger generations, and can apply that wisdom to their work endeavors.
Years for Gen X
The age range for Generation X, also known as Gen X, is typically considered to be those born between the mid-1960s and the early-1980s.
Gen X is sometimes called the “middle” generation, as they are sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials.
The Meaning of Boomers
The age range for Baby Boomers, who are typically referred to as Boomers, is those born between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s.
Baby Boomers are the demographic cohort following the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X. The term “baby boomer” refers to the significant increase in birth rates that occurred in the post-World War II period.
How the Generations Differ
According to Critical Research, many companies today recognize Gen X and Boomer employees as valuing security. Gen X is seen by employers as serious and stable.
As some Baby Boomers retire – or switch from full-time to part-time work – Gen X is looking to fill those vacant positions and gain the financial security they’ve been working towards for decades.
Almost 60% of Gen X believe they’re advancing within their organization at an acceptable rate.
Many companies recognize Gen-X and Boomers as more loyal than employees from younger generations. Therefore these companies hope to retain Gen-X workers by offering working-from-home options.
Contrary to stereotypes, research (see sources below) indicates that Gen X workers possess most of the leadership roles, have a knack for productivity, and are the technologically “connected” ones leading the digital transformation in workplaces.
Work Styles Are Evolving Quickly
These past few years have forced many of us to try new things, including the decision to work from home.
Suppose you’re a professional over 50 who has been accustomed to working in a traditional corporate office setting. In that case, you might be wondering how to manage better a seamless transition from commercial office space to the home office.
Here are seven vital tips to help you thrive at working remotely.
1. Decide Upon Agreements with Spouse, Kids, or Roommates
It’s important to figure out beforehand with the other people in your home how you can work most effectively without visual or auditory distractions:
- Preferably you will have a room with a door you can close.
- If a room with a door isn’t possible, you must be even more disciplined and steadfast about sticking to whatever agreements you reach.
Other people are distracting, especially if they’re not working and you are.
Even in a home office environment, professionalism is still of utmost importance.
Once, I was on an important Zoom meeting with an employee when his wife decided she had to use the kitchen blender. We had to stop our meeting until she was done with the blender. It was an awkward moment.
Even a cat walking across the keyboard, or the sound of a television in the background, can be disruptive.
I have a friend who works from home and has a small dry-erase whiteboard attached to the front of his office door. On the whiteboard, he writes the time of his next break. This lets his spouse and children know when he’ll appear outside his office next. He reports that since he instituted this method, interruptions from his family went from frequent to almost none. It also has improved the quality and light-heartedness of his breaks as everyone feels more secure knowing what to expect and that there will be availability throughout the day for connection.
Since everyone’s home office area – and job – is different, each household will need to arrive at its own creative solutions and agreements. However, this must be done. “Winging it” simply doesn’t work in the long term.
2. Set Firm Boundaries between Work, Rest, and Play
Firstly, if you happen to be a freelancer, you may be working on your own schedule. This can be both wonderful and terrible. You don’t have to worry about arriving at an office at a set time every day, but without the structure that comes with having coworkers around, it can be challenging to keep track of when you should stop working and take a break.
Setting work boundaries may help you stay productive throughout the day. It’s important to know when you need to take breaks, so you don’t end up overworking yourself or burning out quickly.
If your mind starts getting foggy from sitting still too long at your desk, stand up and walk around for a few minutes.
Remember to make time for exercise or self-care before or after your shift!
Each person has a slightly different brain style:
- Some people thrive on as much structure as possible. For them, a strict schedule – ironically – feels like freedom because they know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Other people are more in-the-moment. These highly creative types do better with less restriction and scheduling. However, notice I didn’t “without any” restriction; I simply said “less.” Even artists need professionalism and goal-setting.
3. Appreciate that a Work From Home Location Requires a New Mindset
Working from home requires a significant shift in mindset. You have to be prepared to work harder, not less.
The reason you’re working harder is that you have more autonomy.
No one will regularly motivate you to set and reach daily targets. You have to, ultimately, do that on your own.
There’s no one there to witness your brilliance. No people with whom to exchange energy. No team to pump each other up.
This means that you must be highly conscious and deliberate when achieving your goals.
4. Prioritize Your Tasks, then Focus on One
Most professionals over 50 have already learned – through years of experience – that they must prioritize their tasks each day, then focus on them one at a time. But this skill becomes even more important in a work from home environment, where the potential distractions are almost limitless.
“Focus on the task at hand” is a deceptively simple statement, but its effects are potent and genuine.
If your mind is overwhelmed with things while working, it impacts your performance – and work satisfaction – unquestionably.
When was the last time you played a sport, and half your attention was, “how I’m going to give this marketing report to my client?” Well, it probably wasn’t since you were too interested in figuring out (for instance) how to hit the next pitch for a home run.
Your mind was in place – synced in focus, doing what it was supposed to do at that point in time. If it had no such aim, or if it was distracted by thoughts other than baseball, you would probably not play well. And the whole experience would be less fulfilling.
5. Know that a Subpar Work From Home Environment Creates Procrastination
Poor experiences – which may result from being overwhelmed with other tasks in mind – can also cause procrastination or lack of will to endeavor in that task again.
Designate an area of your home that is specifically for your job. Be serious about it. Get your work from home environment as efficient and supportive as you can make it. Keep the area organized. Make sure you have the right tools handy.
The area should be lit well with plenty of power socket outlets. Even if you have a standing desk, you will still probably need a good chair with back support for those occasional sit-downs.
You can also visit a nearby library. Libraries are quiet and peaceful, provide work privacy, and have other people working, which reinforces motivation.
Stay hydrated and take walking or stretch breaks when you can.
TIP: for many people, it’s easier to overeat in a work from home situation than it is to overeat at the office. So stay healthy and keep an eye on calories. Resist the temptation to snack throughout the day.
6. Nobody Is Perfect, So Expect the Occasional Hiccup
There will be times when it doesn’t work. That’s when you’ll want to fine-tune your systems and implement new solutions to meet the unique needs of your job and work from home area.
In your quest to excel at your work from home job, you may run into some failures. No need to let this get you down. The occasional mistake is a part of the process and can be a learning opportunity that leads to success in the future.
7. Understand the Work From Home Differences Between Gen Z, Millenials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers
One might naturally think that Gen Zers – a generation associated mainly with technology – would be more inclined to work from home. And, yes, according to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, Gen Zers were 17% more likely to apply for remote jobs.
However, while there is an increased likelihood of the generation applying for remote Jobs, there also have been mixed views regarding managing a balanced work life.
According to a HubbleHQ report, 40.7% of respondents listed the work-life balance issue as one of their three worst things about working from home (the same problem was perceived by 35% of Millenials, and only 27% of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers).
In another study, mentioned by HRexchange, 61% of Gen Z workers said it was difficult to make new friends working online, and 39% of the same respondents said it was challenging to find professional mentors in their fields.
Interestingly, Boomers may have adjusted reasonably well to the remote working concept.
According to a Flexjob remote workers survey, over 40% of the respondents were over the age of 50. 70% said that one of the reasons to continue working online was to afford necessities. No surprise there. However, 59% said they work online because they simply enjoyed working.
If you’d like to drill down more deeply into ways to have greater success working from home, these three articles each may prove particularly useful:
- How to Improve Personal Productivity
- How to Spend Your Time and Energy Wisely
- How to Create Your Own Customized Checklists.
The increased life experience of Gen X and Boomers brings more wisdom, too.
The advent of working from home allows Boomers to continue working even after they retire. An estimated 37%, in a 2019 survey, said they had worked remotely for at least five years.
Additional Resources for Over 50s Who Work From Home:
How Gen Z Feels about Work From Home – https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/employee-engagement/articles/how-gen-z-feels-about-remote-work-will-surprise-you
Generational Workplace Study – https://zety.com/blog/generation-x-in-the-workplace
Best Work-from-Anywhere Jobs for Older Workers – https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/best-work-from-anywhere-jobs-for-older-workers/
Gen X in the Workforce – https://criticalresearch.com/current-events/gen-x-key-players-in-the-workforce/
Mature Workers Are a Company’s Secret Weapon – https://www.mentorworks.ca/blog/business-strategy/generation-x/
Work from Home Statistics: How Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers Telework – https://www.virtualvocations.com/blog/telecommuting-news/generational-remote-work-statistics-survey/