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Workplace Trends: The Granny Pod

With an estimated 8,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 each day, their children face the future challenge of where to put them.

Now a Virginia company has come up with a brick and mortar solution called "The Granny Pod," which -- let's face it -- could also be called "Grandma and Grandpa's future home office," since even the oldest Baby Boomers probably won't be retiring anytime soon. Hey, it's hard to save for retirement* when you had to have those pricey tickets to The Eagles' fourth "Final Farewell Tour," and the vacation home you can't sell in this market was a necessary purchase to host the getaway weekends you put on the credit card to impress annoying people who own even bigger vacation homes. You only live once, and keeping up with the Joneses had you jonesing for a second mortgage back in the day because you never wanted to live like your parents did, holding down a stable-but-boring job for 40 years where a single salary managed to cover all the bills and finance a small home. You've never had a glass candy jar in your living room boasting the full rainbow of sugar-coated gumdrops, and your wardrobe doesn't speak London Fog. No sir-ee, you're the renegade who has it made, in a Styx kind of way. Retirement is for old people, not for you. I feel you, Baby Boomers.

But back to the "granny pod" -- a.k.a. "medical cottage," I think we can all agree "Granny Pod" is more marketable -- a $125,000 four-walled, Internet-enabled, 12' x 24' house that can be plunked down in your adult child's backyard right next to your grandchild's Little Tykes play house. It comes with monitoring cameras to monitor you floor to ankle, which theoretically gives you some privacy but in reality could still make you feel like you're living a real-life Truman Show. What is Dad doing in there!? I can't see his feet, he must be napping. Could you go check on him?

I see pros and cons here. On the one hand, your kids can make sure you haven't fallen down and can't get back up, which carries obvious benefits, and you get to be close to family. On the other hand, who wants to be video monitored constantly like that? I, for one, would tell my kids that no, Gen X Grandma doesn't play that way, and you're creeping me out by trying to sell me on a "virtual companion" that reminds me to take my medicine and always wants to play cards with me. Somehow, I can't see the typical, status-conscious Baby Boomer saying, "Come to my 12' x 24' vinyl siding house in my 40-year-old son's overgrown, toy-strewn backyard for dinner, and please bring the chardonnay!"

But who knows? The Granny Pod could be just what the gerontologist ordered. Work-wise, will the Granny Pod enable the productivity of elderly, white-collar Baby Boomers who have been subject in this post to blatant, broad-brush stereotyping? It just might, and it will be interesting to see if the Granny Pod shapes up as a cost-efficient lifestyle choice instead of a golden years life sentence. It's miles ahead of the average nursing home, and inches away from your kid's doorstep. Tell the grand kids to wait until 5:30 p.m. to knock on Grandpa's backyard door, though, because he's working this afternoon. And could you guys play in the front yard instead so you don't disturb Grandpa while he's working? Thanks.

The jig is up, the news is out, they finally found you, doing some consulting work as an independent contractor at age 81 in your kid's backyard. Make sure to stock up on cashews instead of gumdrops for the protein boost you'll need to make it through that 3 p.m. client call.

* Post-Great Recession stock portfolios vary, and are subject to final review.


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