More than two years after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, health restrictions and masking mandates are being lifted across the country. Many employers have announced transition plans to get their workforce back in the office in the spring and early summer of 2022.
While these developments are signs of a return to normalcy, greeted with relief by many that are wholeheartedly embracing elements of their pre-pandemic lives – working in an office, travelling, going to the movies, etc. For many, the pandemic hangover remains. Many Canadians still worry that new emerging variants could lead to another spike in infections and threaten to overwhelm the health care system.
Despite our “new normal”, the effects of the pandemic are still with us. Covid-19 has led many to rethink everything from how they live their lives, their work, their family relationships – and their retirement plans. Has the pandemic affected your retirement plan?
THE PANDEMIC: A “DRESS REHEARSAL” FOR RETIREMENT?
In this recent article, the writer likened Covid-19 lockdowns to a “dress rehearsal” for retirement. Canadians were forced to spend all day at home every day, with outside activity curtailed, social gatherings deferred, and travel plans cancelled. It gave us all (and particularly those getting ready to retire) a clearer sense of what retirement might look like in our later years, when health concerns cause us to slow down.
Some looked at the pandemic experience and recognized that they needed to maintain their outside interests and connections, deciding they did not want to quit work entirely. Some no longer want to fully retire at all.
For others, the size or configuration of their home became front and centre. If you had been used to spending Monday to Friday outside the home, the shift to a 24/7 at-home experience, packed in with your partner and family, may have revealed the importance of space. In large urban communities, an outdoor living space prior to the pandemic may not have seemed important but it became a lifeline when everyone was forced inside for so long. It fundamentally changed where and how some want to live when they retire.
Some enjoyed the dress rehearsal so much, they decided not to go back to work and to retire earlier than planned.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF (OFFICE) WORK
In March 2020, when businesses shut down and many transitioned to working from home, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone to predict that many would still be working from home over two years later.
Remote work may have changed how you see your job and led you to seek out a new employer or different work altogether. In the U.S., the pandemic contributed to what is being called “the Great Resignation”, where, in 2021 alone, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs. So far, the Canadian workforce has yet to see trends of this magnitude, but there is no question that there is a shortage of skilled labour, and that many workers are looking at their jobs differently.
While many workers are happy to contemplate getting back to the office, their past two years at home has proven that remote work is viable. Employees had to adjust to new realities during the last couple of years, balancing work with family obligations or health concerns. Some are now demanding more flexibility in their work locations, work hours, and remote capabilities going forward.
Tighter labour conditions may give employers little choice but to capitulate and make remote work measures permanent. With long-term remote work capabilities comes new possibilities, new opportunities. It could open up a whole new way for you to do your work. And that could affect the when and where of your retirement plan.
CHANGES IN FINANCIAL POSITION, BOTH GOOD AND BAD
The pandemic impacted the financial health of many Canadians, but it did so differently, unevenly. Although some workers were able to shift to working from home, lockdowns brought forced closures from which some businesses never recovered. Stalled or closed businesses resulted in job losses, which forced many to deplete their emergency funds or scramble for new employment. It undoubtedly impacted how much, if anything, they put toward their retirement savings. Taking the time to recover from the financial hits caused many to delay retirement.
However, those who could shift to working from home largely saw a different financial impact. Without commuting and other office-related expenses, many saw their savings climb significantly. With no ability to travel and limited retail opportunities, many remote workers spent far less during the pandemic. The extra savings allowed some to ponder retirement sooner.
Still others, such as those in the education system or in the medical and health services sectors, saw their career or work environment transform. Some opted to shift careers, which could delay their retirement, or decided to retire early, as their work environment proved more stressful or exposed them to greater health risks.
DID YOU RETHINK YOUR RETIREMENT?
Did your employment situation or financial health change during the pandemic? Perhaps the pandemic has simply changed the way you view your retirement, and what you want out of it. If so, now is the time to reassess your retirement plan.
At Tall Oak Private Wealth, we help clients plan for, and enjoy, retirement. The first step in our Retirement VIEW approach is working with you to explore and understand your unique view of retirement. We can help reduce your financial stress and answer the most critical question you will face throughout that chapter of your life: “Am I ok?”
If you would like to hear more, please click here to schedule a complimentary discovery call.
This material is provided for general information and is subject to change without notice. Although every effort has been made to compile this material from reliable sources; no warranty can be made as to its accuracy or completeness, and we assume no responsibility for any reliance upon it. Before acting on any of the above, please contact Tall Oak Private Wealth of Raymond James Ltd., for individual financial advice based on your personal circumstances. Raymond James Ltd. – Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Insurance offered through Raymond James Financial Planning Ltd., not a member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund.