Photo: Bruno Cervera on Unsplash

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has plenty of us working at home, some will find that they’re facing a new coworker – their pets. According to a study, having a pet around can actually relieve stress, lessen the effect of a sense of isolation and help in improving productivity.

But it also depends on the temperament of your furry buddy. If your cat has a tendency to camp out on your keyboard or your pup’s over-psyched that you’re constantly around (and quite doesn’t get the concept of working from home), it can wreak havoc on your work flow.

Whether you’re a freelancer or have been given instructions to stay home, here’s what you can try to keep your pet from getting in the way of your paycheck.

1) Set designated play times
Sometimes, it’s not them – it’s us. (Or them, because they look too adorable to resist.) Pick up their ball or the cat wand and the next thing you know, it’s eaten away at the time you could have spent firming up your budget sheet.
Designated play times can include times you need a break from the screen. Take your dog out for a short walk in a quiet park (that is, if you haven’t been issued a Stay-Home Notice) – sunlight and a bit of cardio can do wonders for brain fog. 

2) Establish a pet-free work space
You can, of course, draw a physical boundary and carve out an area that’s out of bounds to your pet. Having a separate space just for business helps for your own work-life balance, too. Just don’t ignore your pet for the entire day, which can really just stress them out.

2) Don’t give in to their whines and meowing
If your furkid is begging for attention or pawing at the door, don’t cave in. Once they grow accustomed to having your attention whenever they want, this only encourages said behaviour, and paves the way for separation anxiety.
By having specific play times (as in the point above), this gets the message across that they will get attention but on your time and terms, and helps condition them to accept time spent alone.

Photo: Kim Davies on Unsplash

4) Keep them occupied
Or if your pet isn’t too disruptive, have them with you but keep their favourite bed (investing in an ultra-cosy bed could entice them into getting more daytime rest), comfort item or toy around to keep them distracted while you work. Beat boredom or anxiety with interactive puzzle toys that hide food treats and chew toys offer mental stimulation while you work. If you have feline friends, have cat trees and good scratching posts around.

5) Structure your day
You can also plan your schedule accordingly. Take your dog out for a walk in the morning before work or have a game of fetch while you’re booting up your computer or doing something that doesn’t require plenty of brain power. This will tire them out for a while so you can get cracking on an important piece for the next hour or so. Repeat during lunch time to nab you a few extra hours of work time.

6) Choose pet-friendly ringtones
If certain loud noises like your ringtone or conference call notifications are enough to get your pet into a frenzy (cats can be easily startled) or trigger non-stop barking, consider changing them. Or place your pets in another room if during teleconference meetings or if you’re expecting a call.