4 Strategies for Telecommuting with Pets

According to Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting increased by 79.7% from 2005 to 2012.

Further, the analysts indicate that number will probably grow as more employers recognize the benefit of at least a part-time flexible work structure. Awesome, right? Most people would love to work from home, but most people haven’t considered what that really means in a house with pets. I work from home with three dogs and a cat, and some days it isn’t easy. But it can be done! Here are some strategies for making telecommuting with pets work (no barking frenzies during conference calls, please).

Train a “Quiet” Cue

Your boss probably won’t appreciate a sudden barking frenzy in the middle of your weekly conference call. Start in on teaching a “quiet” cue as soon as you decide to start working from home. This might include a number of additional steps—like, replacing your morning commute with taking your dog for a morning run—but you need to be sure that you can quiet your dog immediately. Tip: Hit the mute button on your phone or Skype before giving the “quiet” cue.

Create a Routine

If your pets have spent their life having free run of the house while you were at work with bursts of exercise and attention in the morning and evening, the work-at-home schedule might throw them for a loop. Stick to your original walking and feeding schedule for a while. As everyone starts getting used to all-day togetherness, make incremental adjustments to create your ideal routine. Dogs thrive on a schedule, so as soon as the day becomes predictable to them, any initial growing pains will fade away.

Consider Doggy Daycare

Depending on your workflow, doggy daycare might save the day. My older dogs are calm and quiet, but my little high-strung pit mix Cooper is, well, neither of those things. Every Monday I have a series of deadlines for several clients that usually involve phone calls, so every Monday, Cooper goes to doggy daycare. It ensures that I have the full day to focus, and it starts his week off on the right “paw” by letting him burn off a ton of energy.

Take Breaks—Together

Once you work from home, gone are the watercooler breaks and hallway chat sessions. Sure, some argue that makes telecommuters more productive than their office-bound counterparts, but the flip side to that is working from home can be isolating. Luckily, working from home with pets solves that problem. Use your stretch breaks to take your pup around the block or to enjoy lunch out in the yard with your dog. Take five minutes to pick up your cat’s pouncer and let her chase it around your office (watch your coffee mug!) or fill a puzzle toy with treats. Little play breaks will make your workday even more enjoyable, and your pets will be thrilled for the extra time and attention.

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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