Illustration by Marian Blair
Many people who work from home also have pets to take care of. Some people had these pets before the massive shift to remote work, while some acquired pets during the pandemic to have company while they worked from home. Whatever your individual circumstance, it’s helpful to know how owning a pet can fit into your work environment at home. Here are some benefits about working from home with a pet, as well as tips to adequately care for your pet without having to compromise your work responsibilities.
Benefits of having your pet around
If you own a pet, you likely already reap the benefits of having a fluffy (or scaly, or feathery, etc.) friend around. Some of these benefits include increased happiness, reduced stress levels, and yes, even improved productivity. Studies show that taking your pet to work, or in this case, having your pet at your home office, can lead to increased productivity because you are less likely to worry about your pet, and, therefore, more likely to focus on your work.
In addition to increased productivity, having your pet around can lead to a better state of mind. For example, petting an animal or interacting with your pet can provide a calming presence which can be especially helpful when you’re having a stressful day at work. Additionally, the Human and Animal Bond Research Institute has found that pet ownership also generally reduces anxiety and depression.
Getting work done while caring for your pets
If your job requires most of your focus, how can you also give enough attention to your pet throughout the day? Because you can’t hide from your pet while you work from home, your pet might expect to receive all your attention. And because they’re so cute, you might also find yourself distracted by your pet while you’re working. The good thing is you don’t have to sacrifice either responsibility for the sake of tending to the other. If executed thoughtfully, having pets around can actually help you establish a routine that is beneficial to your workflow.
The first thing you should do is incorporate playtime into your schedule. Treating time with your pet as a personal responsibility can help you provide your pet with attention without feeling guilty about stepping away from work. Scheduling breaks to spend with your pet will also allow you to take care of yourself by going on walks and getting a breath of fresh air. And having timed playtime limits will also teach your pet to expect your attention during designated times and not all the time.
Having your pet close to you, even if you are not interacting with them, might make them feel at ease while you work. If they are not too much of a distraction, try putting your pet’s bed near your work station, so they feel close to you while you keep an eye on them.
For the times when you need to focus your undivided attention on work, or if you have a work meeting where it would be inappropriate for your pet to make an unexpected appearance on screen, make sure to have a reserve of toys ready that your pet can use for entertainment with. Check out these highly acclaimed pet toys to keep your dogs and cats busy.
The future of office work for pet owners
It is an unavoidable reality that if your workplace requires you to go back to working in the office, you and your pet might have to make some adjustments to your routine. Luckily, the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a more pet-friendly workplace, including the possibility of continuing to work from home.
Nevertheless, while the future of in-office work is still uncertain, you can certainly enjoy the benefits of working from home with a pet now in a way that is fulfilling and productive for both you and your pet. And if you and your pet were able to adapt to this unexpected change in lifestyle, you can rest assured that, together, you will both be equipped to adapt to other changes that come your way.
Not sure if getting a pet is the right fit for your work style? Fostering a pet first might be a good way to find out!