The pandemic has accelerated three trends already in the works – and that’s good news for seniors.
In response to COVID-19, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) announced that it was selling its just-completed new headquarters complex and having its staff of 1,200 work from home. In July, Google announced that its 200,000 employees would be working from home through 2021. Facebook will have at least half of its staff working remotely by the end of the decade. Twitter employees will be working home “forever.” Roughly 95% of Fidelity National Information Services’ employees are working from home.
In total, the number of Americans working at home doubled from 31% in March to 62% in April, according to Gallup.
And that’s a win-win-win-win situation.
It’s a win for employers. Remote workers are more productive; 32% of hiring managers surveyed reported a productivity increase. And between overhead, business travel and real estate costs, every person working at home just 50% of the time saves the company $11,000 a year.
It’s a win for employees, because their work day is shorter without the commute that averages 4.35 hours a week (adding up to nearly nine days – 200 hours – a year), costs $2,500 to $4,000 a year for tolls, gas, auto maintenance, and other expenses, and can take a twice-a-day toll in stress.
It’s a win for the environment. Dramatically less commuting has produced dramatically less traffic, congestion and pollution – the greenhouse-gas equivalent of taking the entire population of New York State off the road.
And it’s a double win for seniors. If you’re still working, you can do it from the comfort of your own home, with a wider potential employer pool and no anxieties or stresses about battling traffic to work every morning and home every evening. And if you’re retired, your family members and friends who are working at home will be closer and have more time to spend with you.
Use of telehealth has more than quadrupled, says McKinsey & Company Health Care Systems, from 11% of Americans last year to more than 46% today. In numbers, that’s growth from 13,000 people in fee-for-service Medicare to 1.7 million per week – plus up to 13.7 million Medicare Advantage Plan members.
One reason for this telehealth growth is to prevent possible COVID exposure. Another is that Medicare now charges the same rates for telehealth as for in-person visits. They’ve also allowed audio-only telehealth doctor visits and opened up telehealth to 135 medical, specialist and therapy services.
This is a boon to seniors with mobility limitations or can no longer drive. Because doctors can see more patients per day with telehealth, it’s easier to schedule appointments sooner. And for patients recovering from surgery or with chronic conditions, it greatly reduces the risk of infection.
Online Grocery Shopping
The same advantages apply to online grocery and other forms of retail shopping. Amazon built its business model on virtual shopping and quick delivery. Walmart has gotten into the act, as has Target (with a 5% discount to customers who use their Target credit card). Kroger supermarkets in Richmond have had curbside pickup for years, and now they offer delivery too.
Pure door-to-door delivery services are staffing up. Uber Eats and Door Dash are hiring. So is Instacart, to the tune of 300,000 new contract employees. (That’s more hiring than Amazon, CVS, Walmart, and Walgreen’s combined.)
And they’ll all be here to serve you once the pandemic is over.
Taken together, these three trends will keep growing after the pandemic ends, making life healthier, more comfortable and more convenient for seniors. Just make sure to take all the precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy until then.
If you have any questions about coping with the Coronavirus outbreak, holistic senior care, or your retirement years in general, please feel free to call or email us. Just as we always have, we’ll be happy to give you honest, objective answers.