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How the gig economy is changing retirement

Soham Thacker
28th May 2018
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While the gig economy has made it possible to work well into one’s retirement years, it still requires some careful planning to build a whole new career out of it.

Age to me means nothing. I can’t get old; I’m working.

These wise words came from George Burns, one of the most successful and versatile entertainers America has ever seen, who lived for a century and worked even in his final years. No one can be a better example of ‘age is just a number.’

Like him, a lot of people today feel that one is never too old to work. Retirement is not attractive to them. In fact, it is becoming increasingly common for professionals over the age of 55-60 to work well into their golden years, according to research. However, it is also true that finding a job in India after retirement can be a challenge. This is where the ‘gig economy’ comes into play.

According to a recent study, over a third of senior-age professionals in the US say that they take up temporary jobs to ease the transition into retirement. And judging by the booming gig economy in India, it would be safe to say that the trend is steadily catching up with the retirees at home as well. Take the example of B.D. Narang, who retired as the CMD of Oriental Bank of Commerce at the age of 66 and is earning more in a month today as a management consultant than when at the bank.

His is just one of the many success stories of individuals who chose to follow their dream and made a career out of it over sitting at home. The gig economy ushered in a new way of being productive for seniors after their retirement, by providing them an opportunity to work either full-time or part-time as freelancers.

Here’s how joining India’s freelance workforce, which is only the second largest in the world with over 15 million people, is giving a new beginning to the end of a senior’s career:

Making the most of their knowledge and experience

In this rapidly evolving economy and majorly-millennial workforce, there is an increased demand for contractual workers who have a fair idea about what needs to be done and how, especially in start-up sector. The depth of knowledge and experience gained by the retired over the years makes them an ideal resource to look up to for advice on strategies and approaches to growth of the business.

Building on their investment or filling gaps in their savings

Like BD Narang, pursuing a freelance career after retirement can help you build on your investment and maybe even make more than what you used to in your corporate job. Even if you have got your finances secured, the income you earn as a freelancer will allow you to manage your finances in the short-term. For some, taking on a gig in retirement is a way to fill gaps in their working-life savings.

Giving them a chance to do something free-spirited

There is no denying that most professionals, working in a 9-5 job, spend a larger part of their lives in work and family responsibilities. Their interests and hobbies take a backseat amidst the busy schedule. Freelancing gives them a second chance to do what they want; be it something as small as working from the comfort of home or pursuing a larger-then-life passion like Asis Kumar Sanyal. This 60-something retired banker had never travelled outside India in his 31-year career. Post retirement, he has visited seven countries in the past six years while working as a freelance photographer.

Then, there are the obvious benefits – escaping boredom or loneliness, keeping your mind and body active and meeting new people of all ages. While the gig economy has made it possible to work well into one’s retirement years, it still requires careful planning to build a whole new career out of it.

In other words, you must be ready to put in some effort to embrace new technologies, take up training courses and even consider an age-friendly career switch to tap into the freelance sector of India.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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