By Krista Luehring
Over 136 million American households have at least one pet. That’s 67% of all US households. This means that there are many of us who are now working from home with our new “co-workers”. The majority of the memes I see on social media include dogs and cats, who are able to jump up on your desk, lap, or keyboard while you work. Sadly, fish can’t get that cuddly and most horses aren’t allowed inside.
While it’s fun to show your human co-workers funny pics of your pet assisting you, there can be difficulties with it as well. There are several actions you can take to make your work area pet friendly and productive.
Pet Bed – it’s natural that your pet wants to be near you and they also have no notion of personal space. My dog insists on being on my lap or sitting between my back and the back of my chair. He’s only 9 pounds so most of the time it’s not an issue, however, there are times I need to focus, or I get uncomfortable with him there. So I set up his blanket on a chair right next to mine so that he can curl up and sleep while I work. This also elevates him so he can look out the window and get warm in the sun. Putting your pet’s bed or blanket in a position close to you, in your line of sight should help them still feel connected but not in your way.
Headphones – When working from home, a wireless headset is imperative. Trust me, I’ve been using my wired earbuds these past few months and I’ve had several mishaps. For one, when my dog is on my lap he’s often laying on the cord which makes it difficult for me to move around. And when he jumps off, he often pulls my earbuds and my iPhone down with him. Additionally, when I’m on a call everyone I’m speaking with can hear him whine to be picked up, or bark at a bird outside the window. I recommend wireless noise cancelling headphones to remove any issues with cords and distracting noise. Here’s a link to a list of the best wireless, noise cancelling headphones.
Breaks – Just like when we’re in the office, we need breaks. And so do our pets. I suggest trying to plan your breaks – morning, lunch, and afternoon – at the same time during the day. This gives you and your pet a chance to use the potty, stretch, and get some exercise. Dogs and cats have an insanely accurate sense of time and routine can help them settle down more easily while you work. And don’t forget to fuel up with a nutritious lunch. It’s too easy to accept meetings during lunch, but try to block out at least 30 minutes to step away from your laptop.
Safety – just like with kids, we need to keep our pets safe around our work area.
Cords -We have so many cords from our computer monitor, laptop, chargers, and other devices like document scanners that can trip them up and get tangled in. I keep mine grouped together with cable ties and off the floor. You also need to be aware that some pets will chew on cords and can get an electrical shock if they chew through. To prevent shocks to pets, a plastic cable cover will provide protection from your little nibblers. Another idea is to buy wireless devices. The ScanSnap iX100 is a perfect wireless, compact scanner perfect for on the go, or the ScanSnap iX1500 scans larger batches of documents and is Wi-Fi capable.
Height – You might also like the company when your pet is up on your desk. Cats can easily jump up and down, but other animals like small dogs, hamsters or reptiles can’t. To prevent an injury from a fall, keep them in a carrying case so they are protected but still close to you.
Eating small items – my dog doesn’t discern dropped food from dropped plastic caps, twist ties, or anything else that fits into his mouth. Tacks, pen caps, USB sticks, rubber bands are all small enough that a pet can choke or get hurt chewing them. Be sure to keep small items in a secure container or drawer.
Cleanliness – if your pet loves to be up on your desk or laptop, you’ll need to keep it clean from hair. Using a handheld vacuum or a gas duster (canned air) can quickly suck it up. Keep cleaning wipes handy to wipe down any gunk on your mouse, mouse pad, and surrounding area.
It’s been so much fun having my dog beside me these last few months. Studies show that owning pets helps you live longer (dog owners have a 24% less risk of death than non-dog owners) and improves your mental health, so it’s great if they can be included in your work life.
To learn more about WFH productivity, read our ScanSnap Community blog.