10 tips pet owners need to effectively work from home – Punch Newspapers
Since March when the coronavirus lockdown was first imposed on Lagos and other states, Tony Olaosebikan, a software developer at an information technology company at Victoria Island, has been working from home for most days of the week.
According to the 34-year-old father of two, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most employees did not have to go to the office every day – except on days when they needed to meet to discuss important issues or showcase a new product to the management.
“So when the pandemic came, of course, we shut down the offices like everyone else. But I think the fact that we are an IT company made the coronavirus not to impact us severely. We were already used to working from home and anywhere in the world,” Olaosebikan told Saturday PUNCH.
But while the techie works most days from the comfort of his home, he said he was having an entirely different challenge different from others who might be working from home: caring for his dogs while trying to do office work.
According to Olaosebikan, he has three dog breeds at his Ogudu home – a Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, and a boarboel.
“I love my dogs, no doubt. But they disturb me a lot. They are my friends, and they always want to be around me all the time. They tend to impede my work process,” he said. “Caring for pets is almost the same thing as having a child around.”
But Olaosebikan is not alone in his struggle of trying to work effectively from home while tending to his pets.
Aj Agrawal, the Chief Executive Officer of Alumnify, a tech company based in San Francisco, California, the United States, writes in the Inc magazine that while working from home has many benefits, having a pet at home can be one of the detractors of getting work done.
“Working from home can be beneficial to employees and business owners. Some studies have shown that those who work at home are more productive and get more done. Employees who work from home report less stress and many companies see reduced overhead from allowing employees to telecommute,” he writes.
“But sometimes, the home has its own distractions and working productively can be difficult. Having a pet in your home can be one of the detractors of getting work done. This doesn’t mean you have to rid your life or your office of the comforts of home. Your pets are part of the family and they live in your home, so it will be natural for them to wander in and keep you company. They don’t know the difference between ‘office’ and ‘home’. To them, wherever you are is home,” Agrawal adds.
According to some medical studies, having a pet at the home office causes one to be more relaxed, thereby bringing down high blood pressure and relieving stress.
Agrawal says as long as pet owners take a few steps in setting up their office, they can enjoy their pets and work productively at the same time.
Thus, the following are 10 tips shared by Agrawal and other experts for pet owners to effectively work from home:
Make sure the floor area is free of books, wires, and computer equipment
The area under your desk is a cozy spot for a dog or cat and it can also be comforting having the warmth of a pet on your feet. Make sure that area is clear of anything that can be chewed. Putting your computer tower onto your desk or on a table next to the desk will keep it free of animal hair.
Exercise and feed your pet before you work
After rising early, it’s a good idea to take the dog for a run around the block, come home and feed him. Have your own healthy breakfast and then go to your office. Your dog will be tired of the exercise and will most likely doze most of the morning away. You will then be free to get on with your work without interruption.
Try to lower office sounds
If your pet is the nervous kind, put your telephone sound on low or your mobile on vibrate so that only you will hear it. Having your pet go crazy when you are speaking to a client doesn’t leave a very professional impression.
Don’t also forget to have a pet door installed in your home. By installing a pet door, your cat or dog can go out whenever he or she needs to or wants to without disturbing you. Nothing could be worse than when your pet wants to answer nature’s call when you are on a conference call.
Buy a hard keyboard cover to keep your pet from trying to type
Allowing a pet to walk on your keyboard can actually cause your computer to crash. Pet hair getting into the crevices can also cause the keyboard to work improperly. So the easiest way is to cover the keyboard when you are not working and to train the dog or cat not to jump onto the desk. You can do this by squeezing a squeaky toy every time he jumps up. He will soon learn that there are horrible sounds up there!
Keep your pet healthy
Staying up-to-date on your pet’s vaccinations and checkups can save you time while working from home. Caring for a sick pet can be just as much work as caring for a sick child.
Also, ensure to make food and water available for your pet. Some people prefer to feed their pets at set times during the day, and others allow their pets to eat when they want to.
Having food and water available for your pet while you are working will eliminate the need to stop working in order to feed your pet.
Give your pet an independent space
Embark, a US-based research partner with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, says this tip can help to create a clear divide between your workspace and your pet’s play space. Whether you put them in their crate or gate them off to a certain room in the house, setting boundaries during your work from home hours helps get your dog into the routine of the day.
This space should be one that keeps your pet comfortable. Don’t think of it as a “time out zone.” Give them toys and treat puzzles to keep them engaged on their own while you’re hard at work. Setting them up in a space where they can play, relax, and sleep will go a long way to keeping them content throughout the day.
Set designated playtime with your pet
That being said, you don’t have to stay in separate rooms the whole time. You got a dog because you wanted to spend time around them, after all, and you can only resist playing with them for so long. To stay in a good work rhythm, set aside a block of time to play with your dog.
It’s more productive to get all your playtime with your pup out in one 20-minute block rather than getting up to play with them for a few short minutes multiple times throughout the day. You don’t want to set the expectation that you’ll come over to them whenever they’re doing something cute. Your dog will catch onto that quick and seize the opportunity to keep distracting you.
Keep your pet active when you’re on a call
One of the most common issues with having a pet, especially a dog, in the house while you’re working from home is interruptions during your conference calls. Whether your dog slips in front of the camera for a special appearance or barks at a squirrel in the background, it’s not hard for your coworkers to figure out who among them has a dog.
It’s fun to see a dog on camera, but it has a tendency to derail meetings. To prevent this, give your dog something to do that you know will keep them busy for an extended period of time.
Distracting them with their favourite toy could work, or you might want to bring out the big guns by giving them a frozen treat to keep them busy.
If your coworkers know you have a dog, they may want to say hi regardless of the meeting agenda. Save it for the end of the meeting once you’ve accomplished the goal and start wrapping up.
Don’t give in to your pet’s attention demands
One of the most important tips for handling your dog while working from home (and in general) is not to give in to attention-seeking behaviour. This includes whining, barking, pawing at you, or nudging their head into you. When you respond to these actions, it tells your dog that they can get your attention whenever they want.
Experts recommend totally ignoring your dog when they try getting your attention in this way. That means don’t push your dog away or scold them: any attention is good attention in their eyes. Eventually, they will realise they are not getting what they want and do something else. Once your dog is behaving how you want them to, like lying down quietly, you can reward them with pets or a treat. This sends them the right signals for how they should act when you’re working from home.
Don’t beat yourself up
Pet First, an organisation based in Indianapolis, US, says whether you work from home or in an office, distractions will get the best of you. As such, some days you will conquer your entire to-do list, whereas on other days, you will feel completely distracted and unable to complete anything.
This shouldn’t make you feel guilty, nor does it have a reflection on your pet as a co-working buddy. Let yourself take a break, hang out with your four-legged friend, and see if you can get refreshed and restarted on your to-dos.
In summary, working in a home office actually takes more thought than if you were working outside of the home. Not being interrupted by a constant stream of people or phone calls will help you to accomplish far more than you imagined. The stress-free environment is worth all the money in the world and having your beloved pets with you will keep you living longer and happier.
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