I don’t know about you, but after weeks of being sheltered in my home, I am beginning to get a little stir crazy. Even as some parts of our country are getting back to normal, whatever that happens to be, there is a likelihood that this time has altered the way in which we do things. As I began to reflect on what positive benefits I am appreciating during this time, I had to make a decision. I could play victim to the circumstances, or choose to look at what lessons I am learning by living through a pandemic.
Adjusting to a new way of working
Operating virtually is now being accepted by many Americans. After all, we have had to adjust to finding a way to connect since we aren’t supposed to leave our homes. It is easy to see why so many are attracted to digital nomading and this way of living and working. With technology like Zoom, Webex, Google Meetup, and Microsoft Teams, being connected to other team members, clients, and business colleagues has become easier than ever. And you don’t really need a fancy office in order to conduct effective meetings. All you need is a good internet connection, camera and a laptop (and maybe a bit of quiet) to talk to anyone anywhere. And in many cases, your phone can also work even if a laptop is unavailable. Imagine the savings in the cost of office space, traveling to and from meetings, and the extra time we pick up from not commuting. We have more time to spend with family and friends, to take a little time for the workout we keep meaning to do, or to take that online course we keep putting off.
Seeing the benefits
Since, everyone was sort of forced into at least considering the idea of connecting and working virtually, a lot of the preconceived barriers are starting to fade. I have spoken to many business leaders over the last few weeks who have said that they were reluctant to let people work remotely, but now they are seeing that productivity doesn’t suffer and can actually enhance the work that is done. Even the older generation has adapted to connecting this way. After years of singing the praises of work where you win, I am finally hearing that other people are reformatting their way of life to make this their new business model. I say “It is about time!”
Finding a new balance
Now, I recognize that many may be ready to see people face to face once all this is over, but a hybrid approach might just be the happy medium we need. I personally love the idea of creating a nice balance between the two. We can have those face to face meetings when it really matters, but substitute the rest of our meetings by using the new technology we have at our ready. Of course, mobility is key. We will have to continue to make accessibility to information secure for remote access and continue to refine the ways we engage, but it is possible. Imagine what we could do with all the extra time and money we save as a result.
A new way of finding entertainment
I don’t know about you, but the way I spend money has shifted. The cost of transportation has been almost eliminated for the past few weeks. The cost of going out and instead finding fun by playing scattergories on zoom, doing an old fashion board game or jigsaw puzzle with the kids, or even just having movie night at home at a fraction of the cost of going to the theatre, might just give more people the chance to save for some of those financial goals. And you don’t have to compromise having fun to do it.
Seeing more savings
And let’s not forget the cost of food to cook at home compared to going out. Now I like going out as much as the next person, but perhaps we have become too reliant on fast food and convenience as the go to option rather than cooking at home. Not only does this save money, but could contribute towards better overall health. We can cook food that is good for us and know what ingredients are really being used, which means our waistline and our wallets are thinner. I personally look forward to sitting down with my husband and kids at dinner to catch up on the day and talk about what is happening in the world. Yes, we can do that when we go out, but the teamwork of cooking and cleaning up together has been nice to experience.
The emergency planning paid off
And finally, it is clear that perhaps all those financial advisers were right. Having an emergency fund is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Having money to fall back on gives you space. It gives you liberty. I like using the word liberty fund rather than emergency fund for exactly this reason. First, it sounds better than just having money for “an emergency”. There are other reasons to have money set aside. By doing so you gain the ability to take the time to make the right choice for you, rather than having to make decisions based solely on your immediate need for cash. With a liberty fund, you can leave that job you hate, relocate from a toxic relationship, or launch that passion project. With money to live on for 6 months, you at least have options and are not beholden to the gov’t or others to make sure you have enough to pay for your basic needs. If there is anything we should have learned through this, it is to try our hardest to have that 6 months of living expenses saved not only for personal use but for business use too.
Overall, what I’ve really learned is to be grateful. Right now I know how lucky I am to have my health, my family, and my job. The unexpected finally happened, and we are all learning to deal with it in our own ways. As long as we keep our eyes on the positive, and carry these lessons we’ve learned with us into the future, we can all leave this pandemic with a different outlook on life.