May 5, 2021

Retirement and Working From Home

No toilet paper or sanitizer on the store shelves? Kids can't go to school? I must do all my work on a laptop in the dining room? Is it safe to walk in the park with so many others making the same choice?

Zoom allows me to see other human beings and keeps me sane. I had no idea how much I needed my weekly book club meeting until it was canceled. 

I complain about going to the gym, but I couldn't wait for it to reopen.

If the last 15 months of a major disruption to our life has taught us anything, it is we must be adaptable.  From time to time we may grouse about our computer, tablet, or smartphone. We may cringe and swear at our Internet provider every time the rate jumps. Or, we worry that we have no privacy left; every bit of our life is for sale to the highest bidder. Being overly connected can be a problem, too.

At the same time, the links we have to the rest of the world have opened doors that didn't exist for us before and became life-saving during the worst of the pandemic. In addition to the ability to stay connected with family and friends, stream movies, or read or listen to almost anything, we discovered we may not need an office to work. We learned how to create from home.

What? Work? Retirement means not working. Well, not always. Retirement can mean we have the freedom to work in all sorts of different ways. Sure, the traditional away-from-home employment picture is starting to brighten. You may decide that after being separated from people for so long, you want to reengage with the rest of the world and get paid for it.

Volunteering is becoming safer. The need to serve didn't stop with Covid. if anything, it intensified our need to share ourselves in some way. Libraries are reopening, Food banks continue to operate at high capacity. Docents are coming back to museums or botanical gardens as we venture outside again.

Maybe the enforced severing of normal human contact has led you to a new idea for using your talents or hobby, or skill set to produce something that others want to buy. eBay, Etsy, or similar e-commerce sites are chock full of folks just like you, selling flea market finds, quilts, clothing for children, online tutoring lessons in computer skills, financial literacy, or any of a million interests that others have. 

Create your own website with simple, free web page builder services. Again, there are all sorts of people who would love to help you build a business online.

I have learned about a company in the business of hiring retired professionals in medical, legal, or mechanical fields to answer questions posed by those needing help. If this is you, check out There is even a company, called Swimply, that allows you to rent your swimming pool to others by the hour or longer. Who would have thought? 

Do you love the smell of sawdust as you create wooden tables, cabinets, or rocking chairs? Do your photographs always elicit praise and envy from friends? Those watercolor paintings stuck in your office actually look as good as some of what you see for sale at craft fairs or online. Let the world pay you for your creativity.

Guitar, piano, or violin lessons? Online is where people are now turning for your help. Cooking hints and tips? Do some easy-to-make video clips of you in the kitchen and post on YouTube. Have enough people click on what you are showing, and you have a business to promote and sell sponsorships.

Covid has turned the world on its head in many ways. One is making money and feeling fulfilled. We have had obvious evidence that the electronic tools we have in our home, the creativity we all possess, and our need to connect with others does not require anything more than a little space in our home, the time to dedicate to a passion, and the will to succeed in any way you define it.

Working from home may have very little to do with additional income, though who'd complain about a new money source? Maybe, more importantly, it allows us to feel competent, productive and involved. 

After a year of being literally on the shelf, your creative and entrepreneur self may be ready to blossom.

I'd be fascinated to learn about anything you have done to fill in the Covid-separation with some type of work, craft, or another endeavor that allowed you to make the most of your enforced time at home.


  1. Bob, thanks for this interesting post. In response, I've filled my COVID-separation with almost a year of full-time teleworking, retirement planning, starting dividend stock investing, actually retiring, working on starting an online business, and spending much more time with my spouse. Thankfully, now able to start spending some time travelling (driving) and getting together with friends.

    1. Your response to the enforced change in our lives is a powerful example of not letting circumstances limit us. Thank you, Barak, for your story. I feel so encouraged just by reading about all you have accomplished.

  2. My covid test was interesting. I had retired July 2019 and committed to 5months of nothing on the calendar to really soak it in, learn to sleep again (I slept 9-11h nightly for 6 weeks!). Then I was going to spend the next 7 months engaged in retirement celebration: 3 trips and 4 concerts. Well, all was cancelled. So it became 19 months of nothing on the calendaršŸ¤£

    What did I learn? I LOVE LOVE LOVE retirement. I do what I want when I want. I cook dinner because I have the time and enjoy it. We rarely go out to eat these days. Hubster has been work at home for 14 months. We like each other and believe this was a great trial retirement in many ways. I enjoy my hobbies.

    We too are beginning to travel as we are both fully vaccinated. Family wedding Saturday requiring a flight/hotels. Family wedding June 26 requiring a flight/hotels. I am ready for the future!

    Because I still have a current RN license, I volunteered and am vaccinating for 11 weeks (although demand is down so I'm taking a lot of cancels since I don't require the income-they chose to hire/pay instead of using volunteers).

    Cheers to 2021!!!

    1. Cheers to 2021...absolutely. "Life is what happens when you are making other plans" John Lennon so succinctly said just two months before his death.

      It does feel very good to start making plans and looking to a brighter future. We have arrangements to go to Kauai in September and it is looking better with each passing month.

      Thank you for your RN service. Without the volunteers all across the country, the vaccination rate would be even lower than it is so far.

    2. Kauai! I hope you have a fabulous time. I've been twice for a week each time. I have no desire to see the others.

      Cheers to life!

  3. I used the lockdown to set up a web-based business, study oil painting, write magazines features (for pay), and step up my blogging from biweekly to daily. I also reconnected by phone with friends and colleagues who'd drifted away in recent years. They appreciated my effort to reach out to them in every single instance. The lockdown came at just the right time for me. As a new retiree, I was stagnant and unmoored during the previous two years. But this past year has been a boon.

    1. Your story is gratifying and not as unusual as some people think. Retirement offers unlimited opportunities to grow and experiment. If you and family stayed healthy, the lockdown actually highlighted that freedom.

      Going to a daily blog is a major commitment. I did it for several years until my typing fingers pleaded for a break.

  4. Our son was just finishing his construction degree when this hit. He will have to return to college, but for the last months we have been doing "projects". We have built buildings around the hot tub and pool to keep the bees out (they have a great network to announce found water and with 2 of allergic it was not a good thing). Then have been doing some remodeling for our other son at his house. When that project is done we will be taking time off from projects (we are tired!). I have also taken online knitting classes and have been working on some knitting projects for the last 8 months.
    We are also starting to move in the direction of travel. We are all vaccinated (other than the kids under 16). There is a summer road trip planned, a girls trip with a friend (also vaccinated) and then two cruises this fall (if they go).

    1. I wish I had remodeling skills on your level, Linda. We are waiting 5 months for a fellow to do some remodelng in our kitchen. You probably could have knocked it out over a long weekend!

      I read that cruise lines may be back in business starting in July, albeit with restrictions and capacity controls.

  5. As an extrovert, I found Zoom pretty quickly, and used it to begin setting up online dates for virtual Happy Hours with friends, virtual family dinners, and book club discussions.

    On the flip side, as a consumer, I bought a guitar during lockdown last year and purchased two online apps, JustinGuitar and Ultimate-Guitar, in order to learn how to play. It was money well spent at about $100 in total as I positively love playing and singing on my own privately, but also now feel comfortable playing for family and a few close friends, particularly if they'll sing along. Lots of free videos on YouTube as well of course, but I did feel good about paying for some quality content to learn the basics during the shutdown.

    FaceTime allowed us to spend extensive time listening to and helping our granddaughter learn to read, giving pandemic home schooling mom some much needed breaks. I would like to think that having hours and hours of our undivided attention via FaceTime helped our granddaughter become the pretty proficient reader she now is.

    I will say, however, that after 15 months of forced virtual everything, particularly as an extrovert, I'm burnt out and ready to return to face to face interactions.

    1. Justin has been one of my favorite instructors, too. I have taught myself to play the melodies, but Justin has been great for chord work.

      Has the guitar replaced your piano playing, or are you becoming a one-person band?

      I am there with you. Even as an introvert, it feels great to go back to movies, coffee houses, restaurants and art exhibits.

    2. Guitar is so much easier than piano, so piano is definitely suffering. You can get decent on guitar fairly quickly. The same is not true for piano!