More people are working from home than ever. Remote work was already on the rise, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused its popularity to skyrocket. While some people have returned to offices and small businesses across the country, many have continued working from home – either for themselves or for their previous companies.
Working from home has plenty of perks. It allows more flexibility, and if you’re freelancing, it gives you the opportunity to be your own boss and set your own hours.
If you have a pet at home, remote working also gives you the chance to spend more time with them! That’s tail-wagging good news!
However, whether you have a dog, cat, or another type of four-legged friend, you might find that balancing being a pet parent with working from home isn’t always easy. Taking care of a pet – especially one that requires a lot of attention – can take away from your productivity.
So, what can you do to strike that balance? How can you take care of your furry companion while staying productive and finding success with remote work? Let’s cover a few helpful tips.
Keep a Routine
If you were working in person somewhere, you’d have to keep a daily routine to make sure you got everything done – including getting to work on time and coming home at the end of the day. While your routine might look slightly different when you’re working from home, it’s just as important to keep one and follow it each day.
Routines are beneficial to your mental and physical health, but pets also thrive on them. Dogs, especially, love routines because they don’t have to worry about what will happen next. When a daily routine is broken, it can stress your pet out just as much as you. Routines can also help with training. When your pet understands that you’re working certain hours of the day but knows you play together in the afternoon, they’re more likely to do what you need them to do (lay down and rest!) while you’re busy.
Establishing a daily routine will also make it easier to keep a healthy work-life balance. One of the potential drawbacks of working from home is setting specific hours. If you don’t have a routine, you might wake up late and procrastinate on getting your job done. Or, you might end up working too much and not giving enough time or attention to your personal life.
When you have a daily routine, you and your pet will fall into healthy habits and have plenty of quality time to spend together. It can take a few weeks for a routine to take hold, but once it does, you’ll both be more comfortable.
Speaking of quality time, don’t be afraid to take breaks with your furry companion throughout the day. Stepping away from your work doesn’t always hinder productivity. In fact, it can help to keep you from burning out and spark more creativity.
Pets provide natural stress relief, and an activity as simple as petting a dog can improve your mood. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or “stuck” while you’re working, take a ten-minute break to go on a walk with your dog, or let them outside and enjoy some of the fresh air yourself. You might even consider setting up an outdoor office space to let them play and burn off some energy while you work. Some of the benefits you’ll experience from spending more time outside include:
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress
- More energy
- Better focus and concentration
If you do decide to set up an outdoor office, make sure you have the right equipment and space for it. You might need to invest in stronger Wi-Fi or a better computer, and furniture that can stand up to inclement weather if you plan on keeping it outside all the time.
Even if you don’t start working outside, take as many breaks in your backyard as possible. Regular exercise provides dogs with mental and physical stimulation, so no matter how you spend your time outside with your pet, you’ll both benefit from the break. Short breaks are fine, but if you allow yourself a longer break or two throughout the day, consider heading to the local park for some socialization and a change of scenery. It’s a fantastic way to get your dog used to other people and animals and can help to fight any social isolation you might face while working from home.
If you can’t get outside due to weather or time constraints, find ways to keep yourself and your pet entertained indoors during your breaks. Stop to cook some lunch and feed your pet at the same time. Or, toss a toy/ball around the living room to make sure they’re still getting exercise. You’ll feel more relaxed and ready to get back to work, and your four-legged friend will be content for a while.
Create a Pet-Friendly Space
When you’re working from home, it’s important to establish an office space for yourself. Ideally, that means setting up an entire room dedicated to work. However, if you don’t have the space for that, you can use a section of another room, or set up shop at your dining room table, in the living room, or even in a repurposed closet.
Having a designated space to work will make it easier to stay focused throughout the day, and you will be less likely to get distracted. It will also make it easier to set specific working hours so you don’t procrastinate and end up working late into the night.
Additionally, it’s just as crucial for your pet to have a space of their own.
If your dog or cat tends to be clingy, your best bet might be to set up a pet-friendly spot for them in your office. It should include everything they need to remain comfortable and occupied, including:
- Food and water dishes
- Their favorite toy(s)
- A blanket or comfortable bed
- Their crate or cage
Keeping your pet in the same room as you comes with a few pros and cons to consider. On a positive note, you’ll know exactly where they are at all times. If your furry companion tends to be curious or destructive, you won’t have to worry about them wandering around the house and getting into things they shouldn’t while you’re working.
However, you also run the risk of them distracting you. They might squeak their toys while you’re trying to concentrate or get your attention while you’re on a Zoom meeting (cute in theory, not in practice).
You know your pet’s personality better than anyone, so determine the best location for their pet-friendly space, and decide on something that will work for both of you.
Working from home as a pet parent has many rewards. Because owning a pet can help with anxiety, you might find yourself enjoying your work more than usual, which can lead to improved productivity and a greater sense of well-being. While it might come with some challenges along the way, there are plenty of ways to strike a balance and enjoy your remote work experience while spending more time with your best friend.