05 Aug 2021
By Laura Morgan, Managing Partner at MorganHR
If you are working from home and have a dog, you are slowly being programmed and probably don’t realize it. Think about it. Before working remotely, you had your schedule. You left the house to get to work on a consistent and predictable schedule. You came home on a very predictable schedule, too. You arranged to have either a caretaker or standard schedule where they conformed to your schedule. You would arrange for extended care when you wanted to. Remember how your dog was so excited to see you with a wildly wagging tail when you came home? You may not have been in a good mood but when you got home, your dog worked to make you happy.
The remote work schedule, or lack thereof, has clearly shifted the roles of the dog owner. The more time your dog sees you in the home, the more the dog maneuvers your schedule to conform to theirs. Now that you are working remotely, your dog has not only created your schedule, but now has the ability to tell you when you are happy. When you were at the office, your happiness was evaluated by you, your friends and coworkers, and your boss. You had control to remove yourself from the environment when you needed more happiness. You’d head to the gym or out for a beer. Now, your dog has the control on your happiness. How convenient it is for the dog to see that you are finally starting to relax and get some work done. Feeling confident and control. Then your dog barks, disturbs the peace, insists it is time to go outside in the rain or he’ll make a large issue for you to address. Your dog is in control. He likes you to work from home in this new remote world and he has you convinced that you like it too.
Now let’s evaluate your happiness. Are you the one in control and your dog works to make you happy or vice versa? Think about it. Watch for the signs and stay in control. Do you have a schedule or does your dog create it? Do you get to relax when you want or can you find calm only when the dog is asleep? Does your dog seem to be more mischief-oriented now that you’re home?
I challenge you to reflect on the last 10 zoom calls. At least one of 10 had someone ‘apologize’ for their dog. I was on a conference call and my client shouted, “no way! What are you doing???!!!” He dropped the phone to tell me that his dog decided to poop right there in front of him. No warning. No bark. My client had to disconnect to deal with the dog. Stressed and overwhelmed.
I have an employee that has a dog and the schedule is controlled by his dog. He has to walk the dog or face domestic challenges by his dog. Another employee on our team had to jump off the call because her dog decided it was time to go for a walk and headed into speeding traffic. He wanted her to conform and go for a walk on his schedule. Is this the new reality of working from home? Are invisible collars being placed on us? I do think the dogs are figuring out that our consistent presence gives them the control. When Orwell wrote Animal Farm, he didn’t envision computers and the ability to work from home other than being on a true farm. Imagine if he was here to write about the animal takeover today.