Working from home is here to stay, and with it comes many challenges, some of which we might not be prepared for. One such challenge is working from home with pets.
We love them to bits, but working alongside our furry friends can be distracting and chaotic, and (if left unmanaged) can lead us to become less and less productive. Nevertheless, working from home with pets can also have some powerful advantages.
This article is a survival guide to WFH with pets, including the benefits of doing so and how to work from home with your pets while staying sane and keeping them entertained.
The benefits of working from home with pets
Not only is working from home with pets fun and a great way to spend time with them, but there are also lots of benefits to doing this as well, including:
- Happier pets: Perhaps the clearest benefit of working from home with your pets is that they’ll be happier because you’ll be around them more.
- More exercise: Providing you factor in some time to walk your pet or play with them, you’ll benefit from an active day working from home, too.
- Less stress: It’s scientifically proven that having pets around can help reduce stress levels and leave you more relaxed.
- Less loneliness: Having pets at home is great company. Even if they’re not in your office, having pets nearby can be a wonderful feeling.
- Better-quality work: Pets can boost both your productivity and creativity; two more powerful reasons for having them nearby when you’re working from home!
- Savings on animal care: Having your pets at home with you might mean you’ll save money on pet sitters or pet care. You might even find that your pet insurance premiums will be lower because you’re supervising your pets more.
How to work from home with pets
To maximize the benefits of working from home with your pets, you need to undertake some preparation and follow a few best practices so that this “working relationship” works for everyone: your furry friends, your organization and yourself. Here are 10 tips for how to effectively work from home with pets.
1. Learn about your pet
The first thing you need to do to effectively work from home with pets is to understand what they will need from you. Every animal is different and will have varying needs in terms of their wants and attention while you’re working from home.
Take time to read up on animal behaviors, and even training tips or techniques. This will ensure that when the time comes for you to work from home with your pets, you’re well-prepared and equipped to ensure they have a great time while you get work done.
2. Feed your pets before you start working
It’s no secret that a way to a pet’s heart is often through their stomach.
Before you start your working day, make sure your pet has a good breakfast and they have plenty of water. Where possible, ensure your pet is fed in a separate room to where you’re working so they can be kept happy there while you work.
For many animals, a good meal will simply send them to sleep for a few hours but, obviously, be sure to check their feeding routine and replenish their bowls throughout the day as needed.
3. Keep them entertained while you work
One of the most critical parts to WFH with pets is to ensure they’re kept stimulated, engaged and entertained while you’re busy.
Invest in plenty of pet toys (remote control ones are a good bet) and other things that will keep them active while you’re busy. This could be scratching posts, “Cat TV”, catnip or dog chews.
Consider hiding treats around the house to give your pets a fun little “treasure hunt” or creating a playroom near to where you work.
No matter how engaged you keep your pets, there will be times when you’re working from home and they will be lacking attention. The goal is simply to minimize these moments. It is, therefore, important to pet-proof your home to avoid anything getting damaged or even destroyed if your pets are left unattended for some time.
This might involve hiding or covering anything that might get bitten or chewed on and covering surfaces that could attract scratching. For cats, meanwhile, it’s prudent to remove anything fragile on shelves that mischievous felines might be tempted to knock down if they’re bored.
5. Make time for play and exercise
Managing a bored pet by decluttering is all well and good, but no pet likes being bored, and no responsible pet owner will like this either. When you’re working from home, work will always come first, but it’s essential to find time in the working day to take a break and play with your pets.
The best way to do this is to schedule short work breaks in your diary (this is important in its own right) and use this time to take your pet for a walk or play with them in the house. If you make playtime a daily routine, your pets will become more comfortable with your absence when you’re busy with work.
6. Get your pet involved
Sometimes, the best way to work from home with pets is to get them involved in what you’re doing instead!
For some pets, such as goldfish, this is easy as you could bring their tank into the home office. For larger pets like dogs or cats, inform your manager that you have a pet, and they might pop up occasionally in video calls. Provided your pet isn’t interfering with or disrupting these calls, their presence might be appreciated by other participants, and will also relax you while you work.
Encourage your pet to spend time with you by setting up a space near your WFH setup or on the desk for them to sleep. Consider also giving your pet a job title, like Chief Feline Officer, to really bring them into the action!
7. Set up a pet-friendly area
If it’s not possible for your pet to be with you while you work from home, then ensure you set up a dedicated and comfortable space in your home where they can both be stimulated and relax.
This might include setting up a room or corner with a bed, food, water and toys or, if the weather and safety allows it, access or space outside for them to stretch their legs. Making this space as attractive and comfortable as possible for your pet will ensure they remain happy using it. They might even prefer to spend time there rather than with you!
8. Follow a routine
Most animals crave routine. It forms part of their safety and security needs and goes a long way to keeping them happy. If you regularly work from home, choose the same days each week if you can, the same working hours, and the same routines every day.
This might include going for breaks and playing with your pet at the same time, keeping mealtimes constant, and dialing off at the same time each day. Not only will this reassure your pet, but it can also foster good work habits for you too!
9. Be flexible
Whereas consistency is important for your pet, some animals won’t need this or inadvertently disrupt your routines with their own actions, behaviors and emergencies. Sometimes, these things are completely out of your control, and your duty as a responsible pet owner is to be willing and able to drop things when needed to look after your pet if they’re becoming agitated, or to clean up if they have an accident or damage something.
Consider keeping a water spray bottle or treats near your desk in case a pet interrupts you and you need to remove them from the workspace quickly. Ensure you tell your manager if you have to step away from your desk for more than a few minutes to deal with something.
10. Be organized
Successfully working from home with pets is all about being organized with your time. Planning and preparing for time at home with your pets is important, as is scheduling time to keep them entertained, providing meals and communicating any disruptions to your manager.
Organizing your pets is an extension of organizing yourself at work, and whereas the unexpected will always happen when animals are around, having a routine and plan is the best way to make the most out of your working week.
Working from home with pets can be an incredible experience that adds immeasurable life and energy to your working day. Here are some key things to keep in mind if you’re working from home with your pets:
- WFH with pets can benefit you, your work and your pets in many ways.
- Understand your pets and what they need to establish an effective plan for having them around you while you work.
- Draft a routine to your working day that considers your pets’ needs and that also allows for flexibility and the unexpected.
- Set up your home, and factor in breaks in to keep your pets entertained.
- Allow your pets to join you in your home office when the time is right.
A happy pet means a happy owner, and following these tips will ensure that working from home with your beloved pets will be an enjoyable and productive experience for the whole family!
Got any tips for working from home with your pets? Let us know in the comments section below.