Now’s here a new wrinkle (you should pardon the expression). According Canadian economist, Linda Nazareth, leisure is the new, new thing that will shape the way we live (and work!) Here are eight trends — some self-evident, some whimsical — outlined in her new book: The Leisure Economy: How Changing Demographics, Economics, and Generational Attitudes Will Reshape Our Lives and Our Industries (Wiley 2007):
1. In the Workplace, It Will be Time to Welcome Back Fido
With more people looking for leisure or retiring early, companies are going to have to put up with more special requests from employees – like maybe to bring the odd dog, or cat or budgie into the office. Think the days of the dot.com boom.
2. Saying “I Was Here All Weekend” May Make You Seem Like a Loser Rather than a Hero
It’s very ‘baby-boomerish” to brag about working flat out all the time. Gen Y is into having a life; they’ll work, but they want their leisure too. (By the way, they know how to use technology so they know they don’t have to be in on the weekend anyway).
3. If You Don’t Know How to Knit, It Will be Time to Learn
Boomers have been too busy working to take up hobbies. When they retire, they are going to make leisure pastimes huge – even if they have to learn how to knit or rughook or how to play with model trains first (caveat: education will be the biggest growth industry, but it may not be traditional education).
4. Chopping Up Your Own Carrots May Seem Like a Reasonable Thing to Do
In the leisure economy, some people will be coping with lower incomes, so they will not want to pay for the convenience of pre-chopped vegetables or the like. And they’ll have more time to do the chopping. Keep an eye on the restaurant industry – it could be forced to adjust as more people cook.
5. People Will be Hitting the Road – and Not Just on the Long Weekends
More “leisurites” means more travel – but a different kind. The new leisure class will have lots of time, so can think in terms of seeing lots of different things, maybe over the course of a few months.
6. There’ll be Lots of Volunteers – But They Won’t Want to be Candy Stripers, Thanks Very Much
Boomers may be open to the idea of volunteering, but many will want to use the skills they developed when they were working in professional fields. Problem? The volunteer sector isn’t well set up to receive their talents, so they may lose them altogether. And keep an eye on Gen Y volunteers. They’ve spent years volunteering in school, and could be convinced to keep at it if organizations manage them well.
7. If You’re Looking for a Business to Start, Try a Moving Company
Boomers will be tapping into the value of their homes in the GTA and looking for cheaper places to live. They’ll pull up stakes at a quicker pace than their parents or grandparents. Gen X and Y may move too: they’ll want to try out telecommuting and they don’t have to be in big city-centres to do that.
8. Loitering Will be Encouraged
Or at least it will be by smart companies. If people don’t need to rush back to work, they’ll stay in stores longer, and smart ones will offer them comfortable spaces to hang out (Starbucks gets this), or things to do (talk to a nutritionist in a drug store or take a craft class at a craft store).
Interestingly, Nazareth’s book foreshadows the latest Metlife Mature Market Institute survey of leading edge boomers, which we found full of surprises. Boomers Ready to Launch finds that “Contrary to what most of us have believed about the baby boomers who came of age in the turbulent 1960s, the group is very much like the ‘Silent Generation’ that preceded them,” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.
“Despite the social and political turbulence of their youth, these leading edge boomers have established very traditional lifestyle characteristics. They were married once, had two children and feel they’ve done a decent job of caring for their family, their community and themselves. They really are more like Ward and June Cleaver than we may have thought and they might be classified as ‘conventional.’ Just 2% say they attended the Woodstock Festival of 1969.”
“They’re comfortable being identified as a baby boomer, and contrary to claims that they’re not ready to retire, only 18% dislike the term ‘retirement’ to describe their next transition.”
Bottom Line: there isn’t one. Trend-spotting makes for interesting books and surveys. But as you know, and Peter Drucker famously said: The best way to predict the future is to create it.