The Influx of Baby Boomers in the On-Demand Economy

working togetherWhen people think of the on-demand economy they think of millennials typically, or maybe folks slightly older, doing some part-time work around another full-time job. What we don’t necessarily think of are baby boomers. In fact, they are rarely brought up as a big part of this new digital smartphone workforce.

Initially, it seems to make sense. Whenever we want to make fun of our new society of people attached to their cell phones, one rarely sees a photo of a bunch of 60-year-olds sitting around a restaurant table not really talking to each other and just staring at their phones. It’s always the 20-somethings.

Though when it comes to actually using technology, I know I, for one, really do have a part-time job; I work tech-support for my parents. It’s often pretty basic stuff: “How do I turn the ringer on?” or “How do I get this out of the computer?” I poke fun a bit and get paid in babysitting hours and chocolate chip cookies. But in all seriousness, both my parents, who are in their mid/late 60s, are pretty good at using their iPhones and the various apps. They post on Facebook, take photos, send text messages, check their email, and do online banking.

The learning curve is a bit slower when getting comfortable with new technology compared to Millennials. Boomers tend to be a little more hesitant to download new apps to their phone, try them out, and sign up with their Social Security numbers or other personal info. However, what boomers lack in early adopter attitude for technology, they make up for in just about everything else.

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Now, we can throw lots of “back in my day” or “kids today” lines out there, but the truth is, boomers have a lot to offer. Let’s start with work experience. Boomers are in their retirement phase right now, typically, and have 20, 30, or 40 years of work experience under their belt. Compare that with: “I’m 23 and this is my first job.” With those years comes on-the-job training and other life and work skills. Have you ever gotten into an Uber and the 22- year-old driver couldn’t get to exactly where you wanted to go because they couldn’t read a map? In 30 years you also learn a lot about people and how to deal with them. Much of the on-demand economy requires dealing, even if in a small way, with people. So all those years of experience in how to defuse a situation or make people happy or understand who’s difficult to work with will come in handy. Good customer service makes the platform they’re working for look good! These are the Brand ambassadors of the platforms.

They also have a different set of job-loyalty values than we do today; and not just millennials, but also Gen Xers like me. We’ve always heard stories about our parents getting one job and then staying there throughout their career and collecting a pension. When it comes to the on-demand economy, Boomers bring those values with them. If they find something they like doing, they are more likely to stay there and do a good job at it for the long term.

At, we’ve been interviewing hundreds of people in the on-demand space. Those include millennials as well as baby boomers. We have found that the entire industry needs more discovery, learning about the different opportunities and platforms available today. While the millennials will jump into a platform faster than the boomers, we feel that spending that bit of extra time with the baby boomers to get them comfortable with and accustomed to the platforms will pay off in the long term by bringing their experience, people skills, work ethic, and dedication to this new economy.

MORE: The workforce crisis and how to close the gap

Joe Rubin

Joe Rubin
Joe Rubin is co-founder and director of corporate development,

Joe Rubin

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