My favorite part about work has always been the people. That may sound hyperbolic or like a downright lie to some—there are many jobs where you’re surrounded by people you wish you never had to see. Fortunately, I work at Trupanion and on most days of the week I’m surrounded by hundreds of pet lovers who are not only my teammates, but also people I consider friends.
So when COVID-19 hit us hard here in Seattle and our organization prioritized the community’s safety by asking the Trupanion team to work remotely, my daily routine changed dramatically. While the decision was absolutely the correct one, I noticed immediately how working from home full time took a toll on me.
I’m an extrovert – I thrive on human interaction and feel
drained and exhausted on the days when I spend most of my time alone. After
just two days of working remotely, I knew I needed to maintain a routine to
feel energized and optimistic. And, like with most things in life, my dog was
the best companion to help turn things around.
How my dog helps me work from home effectively
Cider is my rescue dog who now spends her days snoozing on
her bed in the living room, snoozing on her bed in my bedroom, or snoozing on
MY bed in my bedroom. I’m beyond grateful for the little rascal, and the
lessons she’s taught me about working from home.
Here are Cider’s remote work tips:
Life isn’t lived in a 15-inch screen. Cider’s world is more than just our little one-bedroom apartment—she needs to go on walks and smell new plants every day to be happy and healthy. I’ve quickly learned that if I don’t make myself take breaks, I will stare at my laptop from sunrise to sundown if I’m in the comfort of my own home. Cider reminds me daily that it’s important to not only take 20 minutes to go on a walk in the middle of the day, but also to change up your vantage points when you need to. When she switches up her nap spots, I take it as a cue to move to a different table to write, or head to my couch to catch up on emails.
creatures of habit. When my boyfriend’s alarm goes off in the morning,
Cider doesn’t move. When my alarm goes off, she’s jumping up and down like a
maniac. That’s because Cider knows our routine—‘mom’ takes her out and feeds
her in the morning, ‘dad’ takes her out at night. Her commitment to routine
pushed me back on track after my first week of remote work. At first I stayed
in pajamas all day and threw my hair in a bun. By the end of that week I felt
messy, disorganized and frustrated. So I took a cue from my dog, and stuck to
my normal routine. That means wearing actual jeans and closing my laptop at the
end of the day. It’s already made a huge difference and I have Cider to thank.
Check in on each other. Cider has a habit of poking you gently with her nose when she wants attention or a treat. She does it to my coworkers in the Trupanion office, and she has continued the trait at home. While I don’t always give in to her begging, I do appreciate that she takes the time to check in on me periodically. She’s taught me that even if I’m not face to face with my teammates at work, it’s important to check in with them. Maybe it’s about a project, or maybe it’s just to see how their day is going.
your interests. While Cider is happy with her twice-a-day meals, it isn’t
exactly the most exciting food ever. To keep things interesting, we mix up the
types of treats she gets throughout her week. Whether it’s samples from a pet
store, sweet potato we’ve baked ourselves, or the tasty treats that come in her
subscription box, she appreciates it when we mix things up. This applies to
human interaction and incentives as well. If I only ever message people on one
platform and refuse to call them or video chat, the workday gets pretty stale.
It’s also important to keep celebrating each other and individual
contributions. Maybe I can’t decorate a coworkers’ desk right now, but I can
send them a small online gift card, or a handwritten card.
authentic. Cider is unapologetically herself. She’s sweet, sleepy, and
sensitive. Before I adopted her, she was a stray who had just had puppies. In
her own way over the years, she’s told me things she likes (head scratches and
blankets, mostly) and things she hates or that scare her (bottles, cans and
soccer balls). I accept her and appreciate her honesty, and try to practice
this authenticity in my own way. I want to appear professional at work, but I’m
also excitable and will inevitably TYPE IN ALL CAPS when I’m thrilled with my
coworkers—and that’s okay! Even while you transition to working remotely full
time, make sure your personality shines through in all that you do.
Unfortunately, this is a tough time for so many people full
of uncertainty and confusion. At times all that really makes sense is the
warmth I feel for my loved ones—very much including my dog.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected to each other. Hopefully these tips from Cider help anyone who is working remotely for an extended period of time, especially those of us who prefer be around others.
How does your pet help you stay happy and healthy when you’re at home? Let us know in the comments below.
Marissa knows almost every dog's name in the Trupanion office and is working on learning their owners' names. She is a lover of all animals but has a special place in her heart for anything with a long snout - she could spend all day watching videos of elephants, aardvarks, and tapirs. When not at work you can probably find her watching a soccer game, making short videos or searching for the greatest sandwich in Seattle.