Power Players

Bill Gates on his WFH schedule during the pandemic, including what he likes about it

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
NICHOLAS KAMM | AFP | Getty Images

Since the pandemic began, "my life has changed utterly," Bill Gates said on an episode of the new podcast, "Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions."

One of the biggest changes? The billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder said he hasn't been to a physical office since March.

"I'm kind of embarrassed to admit, there's parts that I kind of like," Gates said.

Before the pandemic, Gates spent much of his time traveling for business, speaking at conferences, raising money through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and "sitting in the office together with colleagues," he said.

Now, "it's a simpler schedule."

Like many people, Gates now spends less time commuting. "If I do drive somewhere, there's no traffic," he said.

And though Gates said he typically likes going on business trips because they allow for productive face-to-face meetings, traveling can also disrupt "being thoughtful," as well as his reading time and even his sleep quality, he said.

(These days, Gates said, he has mostly been reading about the pandemic: "My general goof-off reading hasn't gone up as much." And Gates has previously said he is also strict about his sleep routine, and gets a full seven hours each night, plus takes afternoon naps.)

Another perk of being home is spending time with his adult children, Gates said. "I've been lucky I've gotten more time with kids who are in college, [and] didn't expect to be at home."

Gates has three children with his wife, Melinda: Jennifer, 24; Rory, 21; and Phoebe, 18.

"I hadn't realized the uncertainty weighs on young people who are trying to make their plans, trying to build up their friends," he said. (A recent survey from the American Psychological Association found that Gen-Z adults, those ages 18 to 23, reported the highest levels of stress during the pandemic compared to other generations.)

Of course, Gates' situation is unique: Many without his resources are struggling with the demands of working remotely, homeschooling children and staying safe during a pandemic.

On Thursday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed an additional $70 million to global efforts to develop and distribute Covid-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries, on top of the more than $350 million that has gone to support the global response to Covid-19.

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