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Most days, educational consultant Damian Cooper, 69, leads meetings in his home office in Mississauga. It is an about face from a few years earlier when he was retired.

Mr. Cooper was forced into an early retirement when the pandemic began four years ago.

“It was a bit of a shock to me because my gradual retirement plan turned into a cold turkey plan,” he said.

Then in 2022, Mr. Cooper released his latest book, Rebooting Assessment: A Practical Guide for balancing Conversations, Performances, and Products, and demand for his services skyrocketed. He decided to come back into the work force – but on his terms, which meant only taking remote opportunities.

“I spent 15 years of my life on planes and in hotel rooms,” he says, because his work was always done in person. “Some of it was fun and glamorous, but an awful lot of that work was tedious and it was taking a toll on my health, energy levels [and] home life.”

This decision to return to work made him part of what some are calling the ‘unretirement’ movement. International Workplace Group, the world’s biggest co-working company, cites unretirement as one of its key trends to watch in 2024 in its forecast report. Those who are beyond retirement age are increasingly opting to return to work, with hybrid and remote options making the transition easier, the report says.

“Hybrid and remote working models are giving older generations new opportunities to have flexibility around work,” says Wayne Berger, IWG’s chief executive officer of Americas, who is based in Toronto.

While remote opportunities may make it easier to work for longer, according to the trends report, people beyond retirement age are coming back into the work force or delaying retirement mostly because of economic factors.

Only a third of working Canadians 50 and older who intend to retire say they can afford to do so, according to a recent report from the National Institute on Ageing.

The Oxford Institute of Population aging says that hybrid work could be good for older employees because it cuts commute times, makes it easier to care for aging partners and frees up time for hobbies.

Embracing older workers may also be a solution to the coming challenge employers will face in hiring young workers as birth rates continue to fall.

The government of Canada is so concerned about this population shift, it issued a report called Promoting the labour force participation of older Canadians.

Some companies are already taking action. In 2021, Unilever, a consumer goods company that embraces hybrid work, was actively encouraging employees of retirement age to stay with the business and work part-time, as almost a third of their work force would be eligible for retirement within five years.

The IWG report states that by 2031, more than 25 per cent of workers in leading economies will be older than 55.

Mr. Berger says the trend is also proving to be valuable for companies and younger workers.

“Companies can continue to profit from the skills and expertise of older employees, and it helps alleviate the growing issue that is filling the jobs that are open today with highly skilled individuals,” he says. “So many people who are ‘unretiring’ have decades of experience that they are more than happy to share with younger generations from a mentorship perspective.”

For Mr. Cooper, coming back to the work force was only possible with the rise in virtual and remote work.

Not only is it best for him, but often for the schools and clients that hired him.

“They don’t have to pay for airfare, they don’t have to put me up in a hotel and pay for meals. It’s a dramatic savings for them,” he says.

He says this way of working is ideal for him because he no longer has to travel, especially with some of his health risks.

The flexible, part-time work also allows him to spend time with his grandchildren, volunteer, cycle and spend time at his cottage – where he can also work from.

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