With record numbers of people now working from home not only in the UK but worldwide during the covid-19 pandemic we are all having to get used to vastly different working environments and the challenges that come with that. One thing many of you will be finding is that you are able to spend a lot more time with your pets as you are at home most of the time rather than spending several hours at the office as you would have done pre-covid-19.
Benefits of working from home
Working from home brings many benefits. Obviously the one at the front of most people’s minds at the moment is a greatly reduced risk of being infected with covid-19. However, many people are also enjoying not having to sit in traffic on the commute to work and being able to finish work and instantly enjoy family time rather than begin the journey home. Being at home means you can eat a healthy lunch with your family instead of grabbing a sandwich or junk food at your desk while you continue working. You can have virtual meetings with work colleagues from all over the world on platforms like zoom saving a lot of time and money on business travel and expenses. Interacting with colleagues by video call also helps to relieve some of the loneliness some people may feel by working at home, missing that daily office interaction.
The new office assistant has four legs and a fur coat!
Those of us with pets and now working from home will be all too familiar with the benefits and challenges of having pets around while we work! The way in which you handle this will depend on the type of work you do and what pets you have. There is no doubt there are many positives to having pets around while we work. Pets are great at lifting people’s mood and spirits as well as bringing a calming atmosphere but there are some things that need to be considered when working with pets around.
If you require high levels of concentration for your work, you may need to shut yourself in a room without distraction and pets around. If this is the case you will likely need to take regular breaks if you have a dog so they know you are still there and they don’t get anxious or start barking loudly when you are working. Ensure pets have a wide variety of toys to play with so they are kept occupied while you are working. Snuffle mats and licky mats are good at keeping cats and dogs occupied for a while. Walking dogs in the morning before you begin work is a great way to use up some of your dog’s excess energy so they will likely want a sleep when you get back and that leaves you to get on with some of your work in peace and quiet.
For those of you with cats, your new office assistant is likely to want to be really helpful in the office, especially if you are not shutting them out of the room. We know this from experience with Sammy and Luna but Sammy in particular, who loves to type on the laptop, he has done ever since he was a kitten! Here is a video of him doing just that!
Office safety is a big consideration when you have pets around, for example, you can’t leave your mid afternoon chocolate bar/cake on your desk as your furry office assistant is likely to come along and eat it, which is very dangerous and could prove fatal. You can read more about the dangers of chocolate and pets in our recent blog. Cats in particular get everywhere as they are very good and jumping up and squeezing into small spaces! Do a risk assessment and check if your office or work station is safe. Are their any sharp objects they could hurt themselves on, could they jump up onto a shelf and get hold of things that would be dangerous for them or ruin your work? If they jumped up on a shelf could they knock an item off that could land on your head or computer? All these things need to be looked at and resolved asap to ensure everyone is kept safe and we can work as efficiently as possible.
Reassurance is key
Pets are clever and it won’t have taken them long to work out things have changed, they will know you are not getting up at the usual time and getting your work clothes on. You are not preparing your lunch and walking out the front door. They will know you are the other side of your home office door or wherever you have set up your work station. Taking regular breaks so they know you are still here and still want to give them attention will help your pet feel settled and less anxious about all the changes. Keep reassuring your pets in a soft voice to help keep them calm as well. This is especially important for when you are beginning to return to your office or place of work and they will then be left in the house for a period of time, like they were pre covid-19. This will be another big change for them that could prove very upsetting as they will have got used to you being around a lot more at home. A great way to prepare for this is to go out of your house without your dog (or cat) for small periods of time to begin with and then gradually increase so they can be reassured that you will be back soon and everything is ok. Taking things slowly will help to prevent your pet developing separation anxiety.
What benefits and challenges have you come across whilst working from home with your pets? We would love to read your comments below…