Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates occupies a rare position of power, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, he took to remote work like millions of others.
And, he revealed this week, there are parts of his new schedule he’s “embarrassed to admit” he likes.
“I haven't been to the foundation office or on a business trip since early March, and most of my time would've been going on business trips, doing a lot of conferences about the various diseases and raising money for helping the developing countries, and sitting in the office together with colleagues,” he said on the first episode of his new podcast, Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions.
“So my life has changed utterly. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit there's parts that I kind of like.”
He said he enjoys the simpler schedule and the lack of traffic when he needs to drive somewhere. And while he enjoys business trips, the break from them has also prevented his sleep, reading and thinking time from being so disrupted.
However, he added that one habit has changed: Gates is known for spending time every day reading, with the Microsoft co-founder finishing around 50 books a year, across all genres.
“Sadly, mostly what I've read is about Covid-19,” he said.
“My general, goof-off reading hasn't gone up as much.”
He said a big benefit has been getting to spend time with his college-age children who are grappling with an uncertain future.
The future of work and fun
Gates predicts a future where remote work is the norm and the idea of a CBD will change as people choose to work in satellite communities rather than commute every day.
Microsoft will reportedly shift to a hybrid workplace following the pandemic. Under this plan, workers can work from home freely for up to half of their week or work from home full-time with their manager’s approval.
And as workplace habits change, so too do social habits, Gates said, noting that he has also been roped into virtual social events.
“I've done visits with friends where we drink wine,” he said.
“Now, my European friends, it's a little weird, because somebody has to drink wine in the morning.”
He said that as the social contact people receive from work decreases, their desire to connect with their friends at night may increase.
Once lockdown ends, however, he said he’s excited to socialise in person.
“You know there’s some people that it would be so nice to see,” he said.
“We do a lot of our foundation work with Bono and he's always very affectionate and energetic. There’s some people who, on video, just aren't as... the emotional connection isn't as strong.”
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