It is commonly assumed that retirement translates to having a well-deserved rest. Yet it is well researched that a stagnant retirement can lead to cognitive, emotional and physical deterioration for aged citizens. Dr Patricia Edgar believes that “people in a late-stage career or living an active life after 55 still have much to give”. She sees retirement as “Life Part Two”, an opportunity to redesign and reinvent “our long life journey” (Edgar, 2014).
‘Grey Army’ is a database in place within Australia, consisting of a pool of older workers as potential employees. The grey army offers skilled, reliable, mature workers with “good old fashioned values” and reasonable prices. Tasks range from handyman jobs, caring roles, plumbing, and odd jobs.
Grey army is relatively small/local service, so I have also explored ‘Airtasker’, a very similar platform not specific to elderly but utilised by all ages, including over 65. The domain allows users to post ‘tasks’ and other users can accept and fulfil the task’s requirements, with the website taking a small cut of the earnings. Participant Rod Armstrong had grown bored in retirement and sought to earn some cash, have new social interactions, and feel he had worth within the community. Rod has since followed his strong passion for fixing things, by completing various odd jobs in his local area. He says the system is “good for people looking for supplementary income, especially those who have retired and have time on their hands”.
The success of this concept is complemented with research undertaken by Griffith university. Individuals over the age of 45, with a mix of employment industries and histories were surveyed. Results showed that flexible employment options are needed to attract older people to possibly return to, or remain in the workforce. Notably, the participants commented that they were “willing to learn new things, and challenge employer’s views about older people not being as able” (Hort, 2015). Patricia Moore backs this common idea of exclusion, stating that “at present, perhaps the greatest cause of misunderstanding older people… is a failure to view them as members of a community” (Moore, 2015, pp 33).
Thus, we can see here that Grey Army and Airtasker are successful platforms in place that enable older people to enjoy flexible work hours and to follow their passions whilst tackling personal and societal economic issues.
Edgar, P. 2016, Grey army must fight to be treated with dignity and respect, The Sydney Morning Herald. viewed 10 November 2016, <http://www.smh.com.au/comment/grey-army-must-fight-to-be-treated-with-dignity-and-respect-20140807-101b5h.html>.
Foo, F. 2016, Grey army answers call from odd jobs website, TheAustralian. viewed 10 November 2016, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/grey-army-answers-call-from-odd-jobs-website/story-e6frgakx-1226915070354>.
Home – Grey Army 2016, Grey Army. viewed 10 November 2016, <http://www.greyarmy.com.au/>.
Hort, L. 2016, The Age 404 Page, The Age. viewed 10 November 2016, <http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Grey-army-an-option-for-govts-study/2007/08/08/1186530441351.html>.
Moore, P. 2015, ‘Disguised: the true story of a designer’s quest to embrace and elevate elders with equity’, in Y. Lee & P. Moore, Ageing, ingenuity, and design, DESIS Network, Hong Kong, pp. 26–35.