Yup, I’m going to write a COVID19 post and why not? It seems like every man, woman and dog under the sun has a pandemic email or blog post. And I guess it is a big deal, but here’s the thing; I work from home. Before the pandemic, my wife and I used to joke about Saturday being my “going out” day. And here we all are, leaving the house maybe one day a week to grab some groceries and some toilet roll. I must be some sort of trend setter.
So right in the middle of the lock-down announcements, we moved apartments. Badly timed but we had no way of knowing that the end of our apartment lease was going to coincide with a global pandemic. That illustrates a very important point though – you never know what is around the corner.
To my regular reader, my apologies for missing the last couple of scheduled blog posts. Now that we are settled in the new place, more posts will be forthcoming. I might even get Cat to write another one or two.
So how has the Pandemic affected us?
Mostly it hasn’t other than Cat working from home. We are in a city that has a quarantine order, so we are both now working from home, rather than just me. We both work in IT related fields and spend all of our time on PCs, so connecting via VPN to our data centers and services is just like being in the office. Our productivity is likely higher because we have fewer distractions and are more comfortable because pants are optional!
Cat and I get on very well so being in close quarters all the time is not an issue for us, and in fact, we rather like it. We have spent a little more time cooking than we usually do and we have binge watched some TV, but nothing too much.
Financially we are ok because we are both still working full time. We’ve not spent much time looking at our investments. We know the market is bad and we figure we will just ride it out.
What does the future hold?
I am no fortune telling gypsy, but COVID19 has disrupted society in interesting ways. From an IT perspective, one thing I do see is more people working from home. That genie has been well and truly let out of the bottle, and the Fudds who believe in asses in chairs are having to cope with a new paradigm. My hope is that companies adopt more working from home for those who want to, but my fear is that this will not happen because of Fudds and boomers.
The company I work for tends to be traditional and conservative. Usually we have ~700-800 remote workers on any given day – for a variety of reasons. Currently we have about 2500 remote workers and climbing. Our infrastructure can cope, so why not take advantage of it? Free up office space, or even downsize the offices. Chances are, if you are reading this blog you are probably of a similar mind and I am just preaching to the choir.
How does this affect FIRE?
Working from home has a number of benefits, not least of which is the elimination of the commute time. Now many folks like me often end up working that time, but there is a benefit. The company I work for gets a longer work day out of me than they would if I commuted, but I get the flexibility to take care of things that I would otherwise spend half my weekend doing. Things like banking which I spend a few minutes doing during the work day on my home computer. No one notices and all my work still gets done. Its a small thing but it helps me keep my weekend clear just for me and Cat.
Other benefits of course are less car use, less gas consumption, less wear and tear, less pollution. The company benefits by not needing car parking space, cube space and the infrastructure that goes with having a warm body in the office. I benefit because my monthly costs are lower and my work/life balance is better. The planet benefits because of the lower environmental impact.
Keeping my costs low is of course key to increasing savings and savings is what makes FIRE. So when this is all over, we should all be pushing for WFH. In some cases of course it is not possible but even one or two days at home with the remainder in the office is a step in the right direction. It allows for the flexibility of a decent work/life balance and an increase in happiness. That makes life in general easier and and easier happier life is what we are all aiming for after all, right?
*I haven’t addressed the FIRE elephant in the room, which is the market – that’s for another post.