When Water Cooler Talk is Barks and Meows

Liz Presson • 26 November 2014

Michael Luchies
@MichaelLuchies

The Pros and Cons of Pets in a Remote Workplace

Workplace relationships have a big impact on productivity and job satisfaction. I have been working remotely fulltime for over three and a half years, but that doesn’t mean I am completely without workplace relationships. Outside of the conference calls and video chats, I have constant interactions while working, but they don’t include the latest gossip or a team meeting – they consist of barks, meows, potty breaks, and lots of lap cuddles.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of having animals in your remote working space.

Pros

– Breaks: I often fail to take regular breaks from my computer screen. Household pets will offer you plenty of reason to look away now and then and to take regular breaks.

– Comfort: Many workplaces have relaxed dress codes, private chefs, and even allow pets all in an attempt to make the workplace more comfortable for their employees. If having a pet around makes you comfortable, you’ll be a better and happier employee.

– Exercise: Dogs help force you to get out of the house. Fresh air and exercise will help keep you productive for the rest of your day.

– Stress Relief: Every tough day is a little bit easier to deal with thanks to having pets in your home office.

Cons

– Accidents: My cat Nacho is an expert at tipping over half empty glasses of water.

– Barks and Meows: They don’t go over very well on conference calls.

– Guest Appearances: Both of my pets insist on making appearances on Skype calls.

– Interruptions: They are not a case of if, but when. If you get in the zone and can’t be bothered by anything, then having a pet around may be a nuisance.

– Working Out of the House: If a dog is your pet of choice, even a day away from the house likely isn’t possible due to needed walks and regular care during the day. I split many days between my house and Starbucks due to needing to take the dog out for a walk.

Tips for Successful Pet Workplace Management

– Take away all squeaky toys before any calls.

– Schedule walks and feeding times for specific times of the day when you will be the least busy.

– Plan ahead for important calls and situations where you can’t be interrupted. If you have an animal whose heart breaks every time you shut your office door and won’t let you hear the end of it; find a room far enough away or plan to have someone else watch your pet during those important calls.

– Keeping your workspace clean is even more important. Keeping things like water glasses and important documents out of the reach of your pets is now a work related matter.

– Create standards based on your own comfort and the nature of your job. If your clients or employers know you are working from home, an occasional appearance from Fluffy might not be a bad thing. If you have clients that are paying you while you take Fido for a walk, then you might want to keep his presence a little more secret.

Summary

For some, the cons outweigh the pros. Personally speaking, the comfort of having my cat and dog around while working is well worth the responsibility and occasional distraction. Whether to have your animals around while working or not depends completely on your personality and work style.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Chewy, my 2 year old Shih Tzu needs to go outside. Please share your working remote animal stories and thoughts below.

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