Life

LIFESTYLE: Take life in your stride and whistle while you work

Staying happy in the workplace can get tougher as you get older. TV's Tommy Walsh reveals his top tips for striking that all-important balance

Lifestyle coach Tommy Walsh

BY 2020, a third of workers will be over 50, according to government research – but how do the more mature age-groups among us actually feel about that?

Totaljobs asked 2,000 employees over the age of 45 their greatest concerns about getting older in their careers.

Half felt 'workplaces naturally cater towards younger employees', while the same number were 'worried about the future of the workplace and what it will look like'.

One in four said they felt discriminated against in the workplace, while 30 per cent listed health issues as their top worry, ahead of being out of touch with the latest technology and trends (27 per cent), and being unable to learn new things quickly (24 per cent).

Taking these findings on board, along with the government figures, Totaljobs drafted together a panel to create a utopian vision of the 'Office of the Future'.

Highlights include an indoor allotment to boost physical and cognitive health, a Wisdom Cafe space for peer-to-peer training and to try out new tech, standing desks to optimise comfort and physical health, a meal consultant and a Mind Spa, where you can boost alertness through mindfulness.

"The days are gone now when you can get a room, stick a coat of paint on it and call it an office," says TV's builder and DIY expert Tommy Walsh, who was part of the panel behind the design.

"Our workforce is getting more mature, so if you want to encourage people to come and work longer, because you need their skill sets, you have to create the right environment.

"The office of the future has to be linked to lifestyle and health and keeping your mental sharpness. It has to be subtly done and it must benefit everyone, so you have to think slightly outside the box. You have to encourage people to feel like part of the team and if you can do that, everyone's a winner."

Can't wait to work in a better, brighter office? Tommy shares his advice for working well into your later years...

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Tommy, who turned 60 last year, says: "One of the positives of growing older is the realisation that time is extremely valuable, and I have an intolerance towards wasting that time.

"My workload between the ages of 40 and 50 was unhealthily excessive, and at 50 I began to notice subtle changes, and a slowly increasing intolerance toward unsuitable requests, and time-wasting practices.

"This means for me, spending less time in the office, but the time I am there to be super focused in the right environment, normally starting just after 6am, showered and energized for the task ahead, and normally done by 1pm."

LEARN TO DELEGATE

"Before you know it, you're hitting the big 6-0, but it's very strange, because my ambitions haven't changed and I don't feel any different.

"It's been 20 years now since we started Ground Force [his popular BBC series alongside Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock], and I feel exactly the same and I seem to be capable of the same – anything I would struggle with physically now, I just use my brain to get a different way 'round solving the problem. Rather than brute force, I use a little bit of science and also get a little bit more help. I've learnt to delegate, which was something I've had problems with in the past.

"My father used to say to me, 'Boy, there's no point in getting older if you don't get wiser'. His best one was, 'Sometimes it's better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it to remove all doubt'. It used to always stop me in the tracks!"

MAKE TIME FOR BREAKFAST

"I tend to start at six in the morning. I've never had an alarm clock, I just wake up naturally at the right time. Get up, have a shower, make sure there's time for a cup of tea, obviously, and then go off to work.

"I also take breakfast, because I did Celebrity Fit Club [in 2002] and it was really interesting because I learned stuff I was totally unaware of - how your health is very much connected to your diet and your lifestyle. I was blissfully unaware of the repercussions of not being healthy. So it was a pleasure to find out what certain foods did and exercise – and it gives you the power to make a decision with knowledge. It's not about diet, it's about lifestyle and making choices."

STAY ACTIVE

"I'm lucky - because I'm still very active, [so I don't suffer too much from aches and pains]," says Tommy. "I have a big Rhodesian Ridgeback and I have to take him walking for about 10 miles a day, come rain or shine, so having a big dog like that keeps me very fit.

"I also still play football and I work very hard physically. I enjoy it. If I wanted to, I could retire, but what would I do?"

STAY AMBITIOUS

"I'm toying with the idea of a novel, I enjoy writing. I've got the title and I know it's a political thriller set in the Middle East. I've written six books and my ambitions are still flourishing, what's the point of retiring early? What would I do, sit indoors and watch daytime telly all day?"

Tommy Walsh and recruitment website totaljobs are working together to design an office of the future, to accommodate the UK's ageing workforce. Find out more here: www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/age-concerned-office-future

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