Britain’s pets have become crucial WFH colleagues by helping boost their owners morale and motivation, while also reducing stress and anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cats and dogs might spend their day snoozing on the sofa or begging for attention, but they have played a vital role in maintaining productivity and morale during lockdown.
A poll by animal charity Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has revealed just how much Britons have relied on their pets while working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
With usual day-to-day activities disrupted almost four in 10 of the 2,000 cat and dog owners surveyed said that having a pet with them during lockdown had helped them maintain a regular routine.
Meanwhile more than half (58%) said that having a pet with them while they worked during lockdown had helped boost their productivity and motivation.
And 60% said their pet had kickstarted their day by helping them get out of bed in the morning.
Perhaps missing their actual colleagues, one fifth (20%) have taken to sharing lunch with their dog, and 43% say their pet has helped reduce their anxiety in these stressful times.
And the plus points of having a furry colleague don’t end there, three quarters (75%) of owners say their rescue pet has helped “rescue them” during lockdown
While 77% of dog owners say walking their dog has been the highlight of their day.
Battersea ambassador David Gandy has spent lockdown with his rescue dog, Dora, as well his partner’s mother’s two rescue dogs.
“Even though there have been frustrations with the necessary restrictions during lockdown, the dogs are blissfully oblivious to what is happening,” he said.
“They may indeed actually be enjoying it, with longer walks and more attention and playtime than ever before.
“No matter where I am or what I’m doing, the three dogs are by my side, laying a head on my knee through hours of Zoom calls and helping me out in the land and garden from morning until night.
“Dogs provide us with so much and ask very little back, just a walk, some food and a cuddle,” he continued.
“Now they really need our support to make sure they can continue to do that vital work.”
The research, carried out via OnePoll, also revealed how cats and dogs had provided a sounding board in the absence of a work husband or wife to help their owners get an issue off their chest, with one in 10 having moaned about an annoying colleague to their furry friend and a further 12% complaining about their workload.
Despite the plus points of having a four-legged colleague, there have been times when having a cuddly companion has been something of a distraction with 66% admitting they have taken cheeky breaks to spend some time playing with their cat or dog.
Meanwhile, 17% said they had a pet join them on a video call, and 10% had to remove a sleeping cat from their desk or keyboard before being able to start work.
No wonder, therefore, that 29% have been distracted by their pet while working.
Commenting on the findings Ali Taylor, head of canine behaviour at Battersea, said: “We know there's evidence that owning a pet is good for mental health and tackling stress - and this is clearly really important at such a challenging time.
“We've heard so many amazing stories about how Battersea dogs and cats are now rescuing their owners - helping them feel less overwhelmed, distracting them from the news agenda.”
Like all charities, Battersea is facing a significant drop in income as a direct impact of coronavirus and is now appealing for support to enable it to continue to help “wonderful, imperfect, worth-it” rescue dogs and cats.
For more information or to donate, visit battersea.org or join the growing community of rescue lovers by using #RescueIsMyFavouriteBreed.
Additional reporting SWNS