Pets at work? Not usually, but remote changes that! According to a 2020 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 67% of U.S. households own a pet, which translates to approximately 84.9 million homes. This survey was conducted during the 2020 pandemic when many people were working from home, so it’s likely that a significant portion of those households with pets were also working remotely. It’s safe to assume that a large number of people who work from home have pets, given the numerous benefits of pet ownership, such as reduced stress and improved mental health.
Please note, we recognize and love all types of pets. For this article we often refer to those most beloved companions as fur babies, so with this term of endearment we include pets with feathers, fur, scales, legs, and other make-ups.
Well-Being & Work-Life Balance
Having a pet can bring numerous benefits to remote workers and improve their overall well-being. Remote workers can experience increased stress and isolation from working alone. Being a Pawrent (Pet Parent) can help reduce stress levels and provide a sense of comfort and companionship. Working remotely can also lead to increased feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Fur babies can help improve mental health by reducing feelings of loneliness and providing a source of emotional support.
Working from home can sometimes mean less physical activity than when working in an office. Fur babies can encourage remote working Pawrents to be more physically active, whether it’s through walking their dog or playing with their cat during work appropriate breaks. This can lead to lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and improved overall physical health. These important interactions with pets can make remote workers feel refreshed and more focused, leading to improved productivity.
For remote workers who may not have as many opportunities to socialize with other humans in person, having a fur baby can provide opportunities to meet new people through pet-related activities such as dog parks, play dates, or training classes. Caring for those most beloved companions can provide a sense of structure to remote workers’ days and help them establish a healthy work-life balance.
Work + Remote + Pet = Best Perk Ever!
Build Rapport with Colleagues
Building rapport with others starts with establishing common ground. You may find that you are very different from your remote colleagues in generation, interests, and job responsibilities; however, many people can agree that Pets are the Great Equalizer!
Meeting another Pawrent can help people instantly build rapport with one another. Use this common ground as an opportunity to foster professional relationships by sharing pet stories, adventures, and interests through a variety of channels.
Following is a creative way to help you build rapport with your remote colleagues through the common denominator of pets.
Show and Tell: Not Just for Kindergarten
A scheduled show and tell virtual meeting with pets can be a fun and engaging way to bring your remote team together while celebrating furry friends. Here’s what it could look like:
Send a survey out to colleagues in order to gauge interest and comfort level on sharing about their pets. Make sure to be inclusive of participants who do not have pets. Create opportunities for everyone to share something that makes them happy, whether it’s a pet or something else. Based on survey results, you can broaden the meeting topic to include All Things Nature so remote colleagues can share about their interests in flowers, gardening, bird watching, or other aspects of nature.. For the following example, we will stick with the Pet Theme.
Schedule the meeting
Choose a date and time that works for everyone on your team and let them know in advance that it will be a pet-themed show and tell meeting or if all colleagues don’t have pets, make it a personal interest meeting.
Before the meeting, share some guidelines with your team to ensure the meeting runs smoothly. For example, let them know how much time each person will have to show their pet, and if there are any restrictions or rules.
Start the meeting
Begin the meeting by having each team member introduce their pet and share some fun facts about them. They could talk about their pet’s personality, breed, age, or any funny quirks they have. Let participants know they can use their video camera for live views or share screens to display images or videos of their pet.
Show off tricks
Encourage your team members to show off any tricks their pets can do, such as playing fetch, rolling over, or doing a high-five. This can be live or recorded tricks by allowed speakers to share screens.
Invite your team members to share any funny or heartwarming stories about their pets. This could be a great way to bond and learn more about each other’s lives outside of work.
End the meeting
End the meeting by thanking everyone for their contributions. You could even share some tips for pet care and safety to end the meeting.
Pet ownership can bring numerous benefits to remote workers and improve their overall well-being. It’s important to consider the responsibilities and costs associated with pet ownership before bringing a pet into your home, but for those who are able to provide a loving and caring home, pets can be a wonderful addition to their remote work life.
Find creative ways to engage your remote workers and discover their interests. A show and tell virtual meeting with pets can be a fun way to bring your team together and boost morale, but it’s important to make sure it doesn’t take away from your productivity or the productivity of your remote team. Set clear guidelines and expectations before the meeting to ensure it runs smoothly and everyone has a good time.
For more training on building rapport in the remote workplace, sign up for our Remote Professional Certification. In this certification track, you will learn more about ways to connect with others in the remote environment.
If you’d like to learn more, there have been many studies on the health benefits of owning pets, and just a few researchers include:
- Dr. Karen Allen: cardiovascular benefits of pet ownership, including how owning a pet can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels.
- Dr. Randolph Barker: benefits of pets in the workplace, including how they can help reduce stress and improve employee satisfaction.
- Dr. Chris Blazina: psychological benefits of pet ownership for men, including how owning a pet can help improve emotional expressiveness and reduce feelings of social isolation.
- Dr. Harold Herzog: social and emotional benefits of pet ownership.
- Dr. Aaron Katcher: therapeutic benefits of pet ownership for people with chronic illness.
- Dr. Glenn N. Levine: cardiovascular benefits of pet ownership. He has found that owning a pet, particularly a dog, can help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall cardiovascular health.
- Dr. Richard Wiseman: benefits of pet ownership, including how owning a pet can help reduce stress levels.
If you’ve conducted research and would like us to consider including your findings in our articles, just contact us.