DOGS AND THEIR OWNERS WORKING FROM HOME
Marketing reps realize unexpected benefits of pandemic-driven telecommuting
By Katie Stevens
In spring of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic hit and Appalachian Underwriters Inc. (AUI) had many of its representatives work from home. Things slowed down for a bit as the new normal set in and new routines were formed. Team members were forced to think outside the box, use Zoom, and figure out how to do our jobs and do them well with high levels of stress and the uncertainty of how long we would need to work from home.
Work/life balance has shifted massively in the past year. Many are still working from home as we navigate a new way of life brought on by the global pandemic. While working remotely presented us with a whole new set of challenges, one major perk for many was the ability to work alongside our furry friends.
AUI’s external marketing team members work from home when they are not out on the road making agency visits where they help agents become acquainted with the company’s products and systems. But when COVID hit, they were no longer able to travel from agency to agency. They worked from home and conducted agency visits over Zoom, where furry co-workers could sometimes be seen peeking their head over one of the marketing representative’s shoulders.
For the pups, it has been a nice change of pace around their home office. German Shepherd Minnie, co-worker of AUI Marketing Manager Carrie Bay, now gets extended frisbee time when it is nice out and adds ambiance to Mom’s Zoom meetings in the form of background squeaky-toy noise.
All pets tend to get extra cuddles and sometimes have an opportunity to sit in on some calls by crawling onto their parents’ laps while they’re working. For some, the “new normal” has meant taking on an extra workload.
Case in point: Lyanna and Brutus. Nick Schnarre, AUI’s Midwest marketing representative, has greatly enjoyed working from home with his pair of mix-breed puppies. “I love having my dogs around when I am working from home for a couple of reasons,” he explains. “If the day isn’t going as planned and/or it is stressful, I can always count on the dogs being there to cheer me up when needed. Also, I use them as my ‘sounding board’ when I work out some problems, as well.”
“If the day isn’t going as planned and/or it is stressful, I can always count on the dogs being there to cheer me up when needed. Also, I use them as my ‘sounding board’ when I work out some problems, as well.”
Midwest Marketing Representative
Other reps have similarly found it helpful to have canine companions on hand to help them handle stress associated with adjustments to pandemic life. But they have seen other benefits, as well:
- Mind. Some of our reps—particularly those who live alone—point out that their pets make them significantly less stressed in general. Especially during this past year, when stay-at-home and distancing directives were in place, canine companionship during a period of prolonged isolation has been welcome. Having an animal to cuddle and engage with—and even just having the presence of another creature in the house—has been incredibly comforting.
- Body. In addition to the companion-ship and cuteness that are now a part of home offices across the country, our marketing reps are finding themselves working or taking a break outside more—perhaps tossing a ball or frisbee or making sure they take their canine sidekicks for a walk during lunch. Working at home has served as a good reminder to get outside and stay active, instead of working through breaks and lunch time.
- Routine. Especially when the pandemic started, we struggled with new schedules and routines as we shifted to working from home. With no dress code, commute or scheduled lunches, the responsibility for routine sometimes fell to the dogs, who are used to getting up and having meals at the same time each day. Even though reps didn’t need as much get-ready time before work, bright-eyed pups still showed up at their bedside, demanding breakfast.
We are thankful for the progress made in combating the pandemic. We hope and expect that our marketing representatives will be back on the road before too long.
Of course, not everyone shares our enthusiasm; some members of the canine community are less than thrilled with the return to more traditional routines. While we know the separation will be hard for both parties, our reps—and others with canine companions at home—can look forward to the jumping and tail-wagging greetings they will receive when they get home from work.
Katherine “Katie” Stevens is Upper Midwest marketing representative for Appalachian Underwriters Inc. Katie grew up in East Tennessee and has a deep love of books and all fuzzy animals. She is new to the insurance industry and takes great pride in her work. She enjoys creative writing, time with her family and wonderful coffee. She attended Bryan College in Tennessee and has a degree in Creative Writing.