Animal coworkers are a fantastic alternative to human ones—a superior alternative, really.
Zapier, where I work, is an entirely remote company. Hundreds of employees work in their own homes, or wherever they want, meaning they're often coworking with pets. It's pretty great.
But what do our animals need from their human coworkers? My friend Joanna at Tiny Megaphone asked me to write about how she can be a better coworker to her pet, so I went straight to the source. Here are animal coworking tips direct from the animals of Zapier.
My coworker Emilie blocks out time to walk with me every morning, which I appreciate. I try to remind her to take breaks.
Yuri and Kina
We need to be kept informed. My colleague Jillian reads her emails and drafts to us. We promise not to judge them (too) harshly if it isn't flowing naturally, and if whatever she's reading doesn't flow well to us, it probably won't for her intended readers.
If I want to play, you should probably take a break and do that. My coworker Brian is always happier after playing with me.
Take a break and play a game with me—or play with me without leaving your desk. I love it when Joshua, my human coworker, tells me to "go find" someone else who's in the house, and I always get a treat when I find them. It's just good workplace etiquette.
I need a morning walk before the workday. I leave Robert, my coworker, alone until the end of the workday, but only if I get a walk first.
It's always important to have a branch manager look over your tweets.
I can take over if you need a break! Coworkers cover for each other, after all, so I'm happy to cover for Mika.
End your workday on time! I make sure to stop by Laurie's office and make side-eyes at her when it's time to stop working.
If I flop on my back like this, Jacob needs to stop what he's doing and shower me with love. I leave him alone to work after that. These are the rules.
Be attentive to our routines. I like to hang out on my heating pad in the morning, then Alexis gives me a small snack at noon. We cuddle for a bit between three and four in the afternoon. Sometimes I get the zoomies, and Alexis knows to switch to her standing desk then.
Take time for resting, even if it's been a stressful wheek.
Mojo (AKA burrito dog)
Make sure we're visible in the background of Zoom calls. This makes me (and Sheryl's coworkers) much happier.
If I'm being bad, you need to play with me. When Joanne does that, I'll go sleep, ideally in a bed or blanket close to where she's working. Also, keep me out of the room if you're in a Zoom meeting that you actually need to participate in because I will absolutely take it over otherwise.
Scarlett and Patrick
Forget the Pomodoro method; embrace the Pomodoggo method. We bug our coworker Caleb every 30 to 50 minutes for a treat, to play, to cuddle, or to talk. Caleb doesn't say no, and that's how he gets his breaks.
We have to cuddle and play before your workday starts. Laura knows this. When I visit her later in the day, it's just because I need a top-off of attention.
Sometimes I run around as fast as I can, and Jairit knows to make sure I have access to toys when I'm in that mood. It keeps me active.
I need a routine. Kim includes me in her coffee and lunch breaks, and I also join her for walks at the same time every day. It's how I help out—I make sure she has structure.
Don't blur the lines between work and life, Eliza and I start and end each workday with a walk. I also make sure she takes a break every hour or two.
Always have a fluffy blanket by your desk, so I can feel comfortable on your lap during the workday. Ligia is pretty good about this, which I appreciate.
Don't fight the urge to administer head pats and ear scratches. Heather doesn't. Also, look behind your chair before rolling back, in case I'm behind there. Those wheels can be ruff on velvety fur.
Put a little basket with a blanket in it on your desk. Brad does this so that I lie there instead of on his keyboard, laptop, or face. (No, I won't share a photo of myself in the basket—I don't photograph well there.)
Otto and Daphne
We're better as security guards than Zoom attendees, as a rule. Renee invested in some noise-canceling headphones and the Krisp app to block our (necessary) noise. She says it helps, so look into it.
Speaking of Zoom meetings: avoid using certain words when in them. Saying things like "ball," "outside," "play," "do you," or "let's go" is going to confuse me. Chelsey knows to avoid these words if she doesn't want me to spend the rest of her meeting being stared at with my big puppy dog eyes.
Winston Churchill Dumbo Fluffles Cappuccino Neeson
Base every career decision you make on how much attention your dog can get from it. That's what my coworker, Deb at Zapier, did. I act like I'm over it, but I'm really in it for the fame.
Niko and Lady
Talk to us when you enter the room, so we don't get spooked. James knows that this is just the polite thing to do around rabbits. Also, learn to shuffle-walk, so you don't accidentally step on us. You'll get used to it, and we appreciate the effort.
Kiwi and Pete
Like any coworkers, we need engaging tasks. Cortney feeds us with a snuffle mat instead of our bowl, so we have a puzzle to work on. She also includes us in happy hours or trips to daycare. It's great.
Furry coworkers require ergonomic accommodations. Our bed should be no less than 10 times our size for optimal comfort. Nicole makes sure this happens and also brings me to all happy hours, so I consider her an excellent coworker.
Mojo (a different one)
On the internet, no one knows you're a dog, so I can totally cover for you. I cover for Elise all the time, and no one's said anything.
I require a comfortable place to watch Richard work, which is why I enjoy this hammock.
One time I joined Juan for coworking with Katie and Eileen, which was pretty great. Juan taught us to code, and now I do half his work and we split living expenses. It works out because I don't have a lot of expenses, so it mostly goes into savings.
Wednesday (cat) and Frankie (dog)
Open windows may not be great for focused Zoom calls, but they are great for bird-watching—an essential of every hard worker. (Also: don't interrupt us when we're napping. Katie knows this rule, and that we'll give her a massive side-eye if she breaks it.)
It is super rude to leave your keyboard and mouse just lying around—I could step on them. Repeatedly. Erin got an acrylic monitor stand that makes it much harder for me to accidentally injure my precious toe beans while I'm supervising her desk space.
It doesn't matter how much you love your standing desk: sit down sometimes. Jessica knows I can't sit on her lap otherwise. She puts me in one of my beds when it's time to stand again.
Walk me at the same time every day—I love my routine! Arvind takes a five-minute break every 25 minutes, during which he talks to me the entire time, gives me belly rubs, and puts treats in my toy. I try not to interrupt his meetings, so long as he does this. (But I'm not sure why. People love me in meetings—I'm a delight.)
Pick a playlist that I like. Jess is aware that I'll let her know if she's put on something that doesn't work for me. Also, I get jealous during Zoom meetings, so make sure I have something to do during calls. Peanut butter on my licky mat is always appreciated.
Take me to the park, three times a day, or I am going to give you some HEAVY sighs, extreme side-eye, and eventually the cold shoulder. It's total teenager angst, but Amanda knows the rules.
...and play hard.
Sage and Spitfire
We don't make a lot of demands, but Kaitrin knows there needs to be a snuggly place to sleep near her laptop so we can be close to her.
I couldn't be happier that Kaushi works from home now. I didn't like waiting a third of the day for her to come home from the office. I'm living my best life now.
Bennie and Jett
Brian knows to leave us alone during the workday. Honestly, interruptions are a pain in the...you know.
Bagheera (AKA Bags, AKA Bagoob, AKA Gooby)
Keep the window next to your desk open. Amanda does this so I can bask in the sun and fresh air while she works.
Bisha and Tiba
Other cats have said this, but seriously: stick to a routine. We nap during Megan's focus time in the morning, then demand affection and play time by her lunch break. We nap in the afternoon, then remind her it's time to stop working at five. It's not an easy job, but we're happy to do it.
Don't underestimate our ability to adjust to remote work life. I'm only a couple days in, and I've already learned that putting my head on the desk while my coworker, Tim, (tries to) type is a great way to get head rubs.
Use your vacation time to take your pet to locations that are almost as beautiful as they are. It keeps us humble.
Don't forget to shower in the morning. It really makes our mid-day snuggles a lot more pleasant. I, on the other hand, am best with sandy toes and wind blown fur.
Pay attention to me, Justin. Actually, no, I don't want attention right now. Wait, where are you going, please pay attention to me! Actually no, I want to be left alone right now, but can you please open the pantry door? I would like to be in the pantry.
Thanks, Mira—and thanks to all of the animal coworkers who contributed to this in-depth report. I hope you enjoyed reading all of it, multiple times, and that you share it with all of your human friends.
I also hope that you all sign up for Zapier, immediately, because those metrics would reach my bosses, and I'd be able to argue that we need more animal content on the Zapier blog.
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