Ask the Expert: Instead of Retiring I Want to Find Flexible Work

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Today’s question is from Peter who is coming up to retirement but is thinking of looking for flexible work but he doesn't know where to start.


Our Expert: Lucy Standing, Co-Founder of Brave Starts, our personal careers charity partner. Lucy is a psychologist and Vice Chair of the Association for Business Psychology. She was previously Global Head of Recruitment in the Investment Bank and Strategy Consulting sectors across JP Morgan and LEK consulting. Brave Starts is a result of people passionately working together to try and help companies support their employees to work and age better.

55/Redefined Member Question from Peter Amey:

“Hi, I've just turned 56 and I'm taking redundancy at the start of November after 25 years working in senior management roles for two of the IK's largest FS providers. I could retire but I'd like to find rewarding flexible work but am not sure where to start.”

Lucy’s Answer:

Dear Peter,

The world is in a good position when people like you want to make a contribution and carry on working despite being in a position where you could feasibly retire. Let’s break down your conundrum.

You want rewarding work – let’s start here. Your definition of rewarding and how you derive that will be different from someone else, so it’s worth reflecting on what rewarding work looks like to you. Some of the people we work with find their greatest reward comes from closing an investment round, others get a sense of reward from seeing their protégé get promoted. When have you felt that sense of reward and what is the context in which you feel that? This will give you a steer as to the sort of work and environment you might find offers the best fit.

You want flexibility. If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, then increased flexibility is it. The business case for not providing people with work flexibility is difficult to argue (with some obvious exemptions – e.g those who work in the emergency services). There is no doubt, your request for flexibility will be easier to meet now than it would several years ago. Further, if you are prepared to compromise on salary (and given you could retire this sounds like an option) then the flexibility treasure chest of options opens up even further. One look at the NCVO website will show you how many charity/trustee or board level roles there are and in many cases, providing you the flexibility you need is an easy compromise to make. If you are looking more at freelance or consultancy opportunities, have a look at Hoxby – they are a consultancy service offering complete work flexibility. It costs nothing to join and someone with your background would be a really interesting option for them.

Given the background you have, you will be over burdened with potential options. There are after all around 34,000 different types of job and when you add all the different types of companies into the mix, your options will feel endless. Your biggest issue will be the ‘paradox of choice’ with which you are now faced. Yours probably is one of those cases, where it is worth discussing and articulating your values, your personality orientation, your interests, strengths and skills with a career coach. At Brave Starts, we’re about to start a new cohort (November 15th) which you’d be welcome to join. Given some of those on the current cohort, you will find plenty of kindred spirits. For clarification, the Brave Starts programme costs nothing to join but you do need to take part in our ongoing research (a couple of interviews over the next year).

If you have a question related to your career that you'd like Lucy to answer, please email