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Boomers Take to Telework

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The government often says it needs telework, hoteling and other flexible work options to recruit and retain the next generation of federal workers. While that is definitely a strong case to be made, a new study suggests younger workers are not at the heart of the independent working trend. In fact, it's more often seasoned workers who are requesting the nontraditional work options.

MBO Partners' Independent Workforce Index found that 30 percent of today's independent workforce -- those who work at least 15 hours per week in nontraditional full- or part-time jobs -- are Baby Boomers, while only 12 percent are members of the younger generation, or Generation Y.

The majority of independent Baby Boomers work at home (50 percent) or at client sites (22 percent), and most (83 percent) held traditional jobs before becoming independent. The average annual income of the independent Boomer is $77,000, the study found.

In addition, 70 percent of Boomers said they are highly satisfied with their working arrangement, compared with 58 percent for all other age groups combined. The majority of independent Boomers (84 percent) said they plan to continue as independents over the next three years, while 8 percent expect to seek a traditional job, the study found.

Boomers said flexibility (79 percent) and doing what they enjoy (77 percent) were more important to them than money.

"These more seasoned workers feel they have the skills, experience, contacts and financial resources needed to be successful," the study stated. "This stands in stark contrast to many younger independents, who may lack either the skills, network and/or money to make it on their own."

The study shows that remote work options are not just for the young anymore, and it may do the government some good to consider flexibility as a key to the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next.

As lawmakers consider legislation that would allow federal workers to receive partial annuities and earn additional retirement benefits proportional to the amount of time they work, telework and other remote options may be key to incentivizing retiring Baby Boomers to stay on in a full or part-time capacity.

Reporter Portrait for GovernmentExecutive.com

Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.

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