Working from home is not a new concept- but in light of the global pandemic, it seems to have become the new ‘normal’. So, it’s not really surprising there has been a monumental rise in the number of people who now either want, need or have no choice but to work from home.
Even though much of the population has embraced the acclimation of working remotely- those of us who are pet owners have also realized that spending our days working from home comes with both benefits and challenges- especially if you have a dog or cat (or both!).
Working from Home Changes Everyone’s Routine
While having your furry four-legged friend as your new co-worker might seem like a dream come true, your pets can also become a huge distraction- especially when you have a deadline to meet or are on a conference/video call.
The truth is, whether you work from home or not, you already know how distracting pets can be sometimes- like when the dog won’t stop barking at the delivery person at the door, when your cat decides to curl up in front of your laptop screen or when the dog decides to have a bit of fun chasing the kitty all over the house.
Do our pets mean to be a distraction for those of us who work from home? Of course they don’t! Yet, who can blame a devoted pet that is overly excited and thrilled that their owner is now available 24/7.
In fact, if you work from home, your mere presence everyday signals to them that they’ll be getting more attention- or, at the very least, they’ll expect to be getting more attention from you. Being available for extra walks, more physical contact, or the possibility of extended playtime during the day is super enticing to your pet.
Just like us, it’s absolutely normal that our pets will experience an adjustment period as we transition from leaving to go to the office every day to simply heading to our computers when we start our day. It’s also understandable that your pet’s daily routine will change when you begin your home-work schedule.
However, because the entire dynamic of their usual day has changed, your pet might also exhibit increased anxiety. You might even start to notice some behavioral issues. This makes total sense because in your pet’s mind, they see you and know you are there, but they are confused on why you can’t (or aren’t) spending more time with them.
As pet owners, it is our responsibility to create a productive and comfortable ‘at home’ work environment, as well as a routine that works for everyone.
6 Great Tips for Working at Home with Pets
When your goal is to stay focused and productive while working at home with pets, the following tips will help you accomplish your work, keep your sanity and create a happier work environment.
Create a space dedicated for work- Creating a separate workspace is essential for getting your work done, answering calls and participating in zoom meetings. However, you might not have the option of dedicating a separate room with a closed door for your workspace. If this is the case, you can still set up a workplace in your dining/living room or kitchen –just make certain you also set up an area dedicated to your pet, where they can sleep, play and relax.
Start the day with exercise- Start your day with a morning walk. Walking for about a half hour each morning with your dog can benefit you both. It will help your dog expend some early morning energy and help you feel less groggy and more productive when you start your workday. Walking with your dog every morning will also strengthen the bond between you-which in turn, will help deter any attention-seeking behavior from your dog such as whining and barking.
Keep a daily schedule- and stick to it! Working from home can be fun if you schedule your day properly. Setting up designated times to cuddle, play and eat meals will make your day run smoothly. Spending time with your pet in the morning before you start working, devoting some of your lunch hour to playtime, and taking frequent short breaks will help them adjust to you being home. It will also help them transition into a routine so they understand the difference between work time and play time.
Keeping your pet occupied is key- Although most of our pets will snooze for much of the day, when they are awake they will most likely look to you for entertainment and stimulation. Rather than catering to their playful whims, make sure you supply them with plenty of toys to keep them busy. There are a number of toys on the market such as ropes, chew toys and balls that are great for dogs; and cat trees, scratching posts and interactive & catnip toys that can keep your fur baby busy when you aren’t able to take a break and play.
Prepare for important calls and meetings- One of the great things about working from home (with possible distractions is that you have ample time to prepare for calls and video meetings. Since most calls/meetings are scheduled in advance, taking your dog for a quick walk/run outside or taking some time to play with your cat prior to your meeting/call can be helpful in ensuring peace and quiet when you are ready to conduct business.
- Be flexible- Even though you have set up a schedule, that doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. In fact that’s one of the terrific perks of working from home. When you are having a stressful, hectic or unproductive day, your pet can actually help. Taking little breaks throughout the day to take an extra walk, have little extra playtime, or simply to give your pet some affection can alleviate your stress, help you become refocused and inspire you to be more productive.
Benefits of Working from Home with Pets
There is no doubt that working from home offers a number of ‘work-related’ benefits, but did you also know that studies show our pets can have positive effects on both our physical and mental health?
Just take a look at all the benefits you can enjoy when you transition from working in an office to working remotely in the comfort of your home:
- A happier you and a happy work environment
- Enhances work/life balance
- Can boost your mental health
- Can improve your overall health and well-being
- Reduced stress
- Increase in motivation and productivity
- Promotes creativity and problem solving
- Encourages more exercise and increases physical activity
- Helps fill the social void- daily dog walking can help you interact with others
- Lessens the loneliness for both you and your pet
- Work breaks are more enjoyable
- Cost effective-saves you money (coffee & lunch take-out) as well as hiring someone to pet sit or walk your dog during the day.
- More flexibility for scheduling grooming and vet visits
- Creates a stronger bond between you and your pet
While there are so many benefits for both you and your pet when you work from home, there is no doubt you’ll be faced with some challenges as well. One of which is time management. Although working remotely allows you more flexibility with your time, you should always make a schedule and try to stick to it. While it may be true that some days will be less busy and more hectic than others- keeping a routine will not only help you maintain your sanity, it will also help your pet when they know what to expect.
Always be sure to give praise and rewards for your furry co-worker’s good behavior. It’s important to know that even the best laid plans can fall to the wayside –especially when “out of your control’ distractions happen during the day. Whether your pup starts barking at a noise outside or your inquisitive cat decides to make an appearance during a video conference, you’ll need to learn how to take it all in stride and not be so hard on yourself… or your pet.
If you find yourself working from home indefinitely or just temporarily, these tips can make the transition from office to home much easier for both you and your pet.
Working from home can be a terrific option for many of us. You will no doubt love the flexibility and all the wonderful physical and mental benefits that come with working from home…and, having a beloved pet by your side can make it even better!