If I mention that I work from home, most reactions from people tend to be on the envious side: ‘’Wow, lucky you! I’d love to work from home: blanket fort on the sofa with your laptop and the cat curled up on your feet! Amazing, you can walk the dog whenever you want!’’ I won’t lie, working from home certainly has its benefits. If I don’t have a meeting that involves a webcam, I can stay in my cosy PJ’s. But is that a good call? When I was working away from home, I adopted the ritual of changing into my comfy clothes as soon as I got home from work. That was the signal for my cat, Simon, to come cuddle up with me. Little bit of play time, or a nap.

Always hungry for attention

It took some getting used to when I got my current job, being at home all the time. Simon agreed. So many possibilities, he could always miauw for attention, always sit on lap, always playtime! But Tezzie had to work! I would hide upstairs with my laptop in the bedroom for any Skype meetings I had. But it didn’t take long for loud yowling to appear in the background of my calls. Naturally, my plan of hiding away did not work. Add in the latest addition, my Jack Russell Sam, and you have the perfect storm. Two pets vying for attention. There I was, having to attend a meeting with my boss, a barking dog in the background… Not the epitome of professionalism I wished to show, and it was also a killer for my working atmosphere. What did I have to change?

The do’s of working from home with pets

Simon saw me putting on my PJ’s as the sign to come sit on my lap. Working from home with a cat had, in my case, a simple solution. Ditch the PJ’s and get dressed! Another must is making sure you have a proper place to work. Technologies such as tablets and laptops are tempting us to sit in a comfy chair, a sofa-fort and work in full on couch potato mode. Other than a one-way ticket to a chiropractor for ruining your back, I also have my little zoo on the sofa with me. If you are finished with work, it is important to take some distance from it. That is easier if you have a proper working space. You can leave your working space, rather than just shutting your laptop from your sofa-fort. I have a large pouf next to my desk, that has Sam’s little dog bed on it. On my sizeable desk, there is space for Simon and his blanket. (After all, dogs are easier to train than cats!)

Proper preparation prevents a zoo

The most difficult moments are the online meetings with my colleagues. Simon sleeps through most of the day, but Sam hears all the voices and is interested in every single one of them. Fortunately, my colleagues are very fond of Sam. The first 5 minutes of our meeting are spent saying hello. I have an open-minded CEO, who found Sam so adorable when he saw him during the once a fortnight companywide meeting that he decided on a ‘’Bring your pet to work’’ day once per month. On that day, everyone brings their cat/dog/guinea pig/parrot in view. Meanwhile, Sam has been given the official title of ‘’office dog’’ who keeps morale up. Working from home with pets is certainly possible. Divide your attention between your pets and your colleagues. Make sure you arrange the proper preparations and prevent a zoo!

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Tess Walter