The shift towards homeworking seen during the Covid-19 pandemic could enable older workers to remain in the labour market for longer, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The early exit of older workers from the UK labour market, between the age of 50 years and prior to State Pension age (SPA), can negatively impact an individual’s future financial security and is also detrimental to the wider economy, says the analysis of data by the ONS.
The proportion of older workers who are planning to work from home following the coronavirus pandemic is higher than the proportion who worked from home before the pandemic, indicating that any benefit may persist.
Characteristics of those who exit the labour market early and older workers who did not switch to working from home during the pandemic were similar; they tend to have poorer health, lower wellbeing, live in deprived areas and have lower or no qualifications.
The ONS also states that working from home has not been an option for all; although it might help some older workers stay in the labour market for longer it may also entrench existing inequalities.
The likelihood of having a long-term condition increases with age and one of the main reasons for dropping out of the labour market is poor health. Those with a long-standing illness, disability or infirmity who work from home were also more likely to say they are now planning to retire later (10.9 per cent) compared with those not working from home (4.9 per cent).
During the pandemic around three-quarters of older workers who were working from home all or some of the time reported they were able to get the same or more done than before the pandemic. However, around a quarter of older workers working from home reported decreased productivity.