Remote working has been on the rise over the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic caused it to skyrocket out of necessity. Many people are now choosing to stay remote or practice a “hybrid” work schedule. As of January 2021, 4.7 million people worked at least some of the time remotely.
Working from home allows you to have more flexibility, and it can even boost productivity. Plus, it allows you to spend more time with your four-legged friend if you’re a pet owner.
But, it may not always be easy trying to do your work with a dog or cat lying quietly at your feet. They might require more attention, and you might have to put them through other life transitions you’re dealing with, like moving.
Let’s cover some new challenges you might face while working remotely and how your dog will fit in.
A change of scenery
Almost 16 million people moved during the pandemic. That probably seems like a lot during a time when people were told to stay at home. But that’s precisely the point. Most of the moves were people moving from big, crowded cities to more rural areas. Some of the benefits of doing so include the following:
- Fresh air and an opportunity to connect with nature
- A slower pace
- Fewer people
One of the reasons more people were able to move was thanks to remote working. You can live anywhere while keeping your job. Some people also moved out of necessity if their hours or salary were cut and they needed a lower living cost.
If you’ve recently moved or you’re considering it, it’s essential to understand the stress it might put on your pet. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. By keeping a few tips in mind, you can make it a more comfortable experience for them. The most important thing is to understand their needs.
When you move into a new place, keep your pet in one room to get used to it. Make sure they have their favorite toys, a bed, and even something that smells like you. Slowly, you can start to introduce them to more areas of the home. It can also help to crate train them so they have a safe place to go. If your pet has a pre-existing condition (an injury or illness), make sure you speak with their vet before you move and connect with a vet in your new community right away. It can be worth investing in pet insurance in your new location if your dog needs considerable medical care.
Whether you move or stay in your current home, you’ll quickly start to feel like your pet is a co-worker. They might be the only ones with you throughout the day while sitting at your desk, shuffling to the kitchen, or taking a break. Chances are, your dog will love that you’re home more often. But it can make the time you’re away from home seem worse. They might even start to develop separation anxiety.
It’s a common behavioral problem; thankfully, it can usually be managed. Your dog might need time to adjust to the “new norms” in your living situation, especially if you’ve moved to a different location.
If you have to leave the house and your dog has started to exhibit signs of separation anxiety, there are things you can do to help them (and yourself). First, don’t make a big deal when you leave. Say “goodbye” to your furry friend long before you go, and don’t hype them up before you walk out the door. Stay calm and assertive as you leave. Your dog will pick up on that energy. Since you’re the “pack leader,” they will follow your lead and stay calmer.
Start with shorter “trips,” spending 5-10 minutes out of the house to see how your dog does. When they start to know that you’ll always return, some of that anxiety can fade away until you can leave for longer periods.
Dealing with distractions when working remotely
Your pet might not be the only one facing new challenges while you’re working from home. As their owner, it can be tempting for you to get distracted by their presence. They might demand your attention, or you might be susceptible to giving it to them whenever they’re around.
There is nothing wrong with having your dog nearby while you’re working. But, if your furry friend is going to distract you from your job, it’s best to keep them in a separate area. One of the most important things you can do when working from home is to strike a healthy work-life balance. It’s a key factor whether you have a pet, but it becomes even more critical when your best friend is involved.
Not sure how to find that balance? Try some of the following tips:
- Establish a daily routine
- Set specific working hours
- Have a dedicated office space
- Take breaks throughout the day
Part of your routine might include going for a long walk in the morning with your canine companion. The old saying goes, “a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.” If your dog is tired, it’ll be less likely to demand your attention, so you can get more work done throughout the day.
Working remotely requires discipline and dedication, no matter where you are. Having your furry companion by your side can add comfort and reduce stress levels while working. But be prepared to tackle some of these new challenges so you both can enjoy your newly remote environment.
Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience with nose boops and chin scritches. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.