Despite RTO policies being actively implemented, remote work and virtual meetings are as common as never before. Considering their nature, they offer us a peek into colleagues' personal spaces, including surprise cameos by their pets.
These unexpected "guests" add charm to our daily work routines but can also present challenges. This guide provides a light-hearted look at introducing your pets on work calls and using these moments to foster connection and camaraderie.
Why Introducing Your Pet Can Be a Good Idea
The phrase "All work and no play" doesn't apply to the world of virtual meetings, especially with our pets around. While we strive to sustain professionalism using a Zoom background maker from Vista Create and dressing properly for the call, introducing our pets can showcase a personal side, bridging gaps and fostering deeper connections with colleagues or clients.
Besides, not every virtual call starts with instant camaraderie. A cat lazily stretching behind you or a dog wagging its tail can easily lighten the mood, turning formality into a moment of shared amusement.
Finally, studies have shown the calming effect pets have on humans. Sharing this joy, even if momentarily, can reduce stress levels and elevate the overall mood of a meeting.
The Right Time to Introduce Your Pet
Like any introduction, timing is everything. Knowing when to let your pet grace the screen can make all the difference:
Scheduled vs. Spontaneous Introductions: If it's a casual team check-in or a session with close colleagues, a planned introduction can be delightful. For more formal meetings, it's best to gauge the room before spontaneously bringing in your pet.
Reading the Room: If the mood of the call is tense or there's a serious discussion ongoing, it's best to wait for a more relaxed moment or a lighthearted segue.
Considering Cultural Sensitivities: Keep in mind that perceptions of pets vary worldwide. While some might adore the presence of your furry friend, others might not share the sentiment. Always be respectful of diverse attitudes.
Setting Up the Perfect Introduction
Introducing your pet during a virtual meeting requires a blend of spontaneity and planning. To begin with, it's essential to make sure your pet is well-positioned within the camera frame. Whether they're demonstrating a playful trick or simply lounging in the background, capturing their essence can add charm to the introduction.
When you do decide to introduce your furry friend, keep it light and engaging. A quick story or a witty comment, such as mentioning how "Luna believes every video call is her personal screen time," can evoke smiles all around.
However, as delightful as these moments can be, it's important to strike a balance. Keeping the introduction brief ensures that the main focus remains on the meeting's primary purpose, allowing for a seamless transition back to the agenda at hand.
Training Your Pet for Virtual Meetings
Having a pet that understands the virtual workspace's dynamics can be an asset. It can minimize disruptions and also allow for those delightful appearances that everyone looks forward to:
Setting Boundaries: Just as kids sometimes need guidance on when it's okay to interrupt a parent on a call, pets can benefit from understanding boundaries. Training them to recognize when they can approach and when they should wait can be achieved with consistent cues and routines.
Rewards System: Positive reinforcement can work wonders. If your pet patiently waits or behaves well during a call, rewarding them with a treat or some playtime afterward can reinforce this good behavior.
Creating a Distraction-Free Zone: Sometimes, the best strategy is to engage them elsewhere. Setting up a space with their favorite toys or a treat-dispensing gadget can keep them occupied while you're busy.
Addressing Unplanned Pet Interruptions
Even with the best preparations, pets have a way of reminding us that they don't always adhere to our plans:
If your cat suddenly decides to walk across your keyboard or your dog barks at an inopportune moment, a simple and light-hearted apology can suffice. "Looks like Max wanted to share his opinion too!" can turn an unexpected interruption into a moment of levity.
Using it as a Conversation Starter
If the situation allows, use the interruption to break the ice. "That's Bella making her daily cameo. Do any of you have pets who love the spotlight?" Such moments can ease tensions and make virtual meetings more personable.
Preventing Future Interruptions
If unplanned appearances become frequent, consider strategies to reduce them, like setting up a play area away from your workspace or scheduling calls around your pet's nap or feeding times.
Rocky Kanaka is an entrepreneur, pet rescue advocate and dog dad to a rescue boxer named Flip, a blind Cane Corso called Kobe, and a terrier mix named Zoey. He's also a pet chef and owner of The Dog Bakery, which specializes in dog birthday cakes
and fresh baked dog treats. His three dogs can't get enough of the dog cakes and treats!
Lorna Paxton Ladd is a passionate dog lover and enthusiast of The Dog Bakery. She loves spoiling her 3 rescue dogs with dog cakes
and jerky. A 15 year veteran in the pet industry, her aim is to educate pet parents on the best recipes, products, tips and tricks to optimize the human/canine bond. Her favorite product at The Dog Bakery are the customizable dog birthday cakes.