Dog Dad Zack Manko and his dog Sorcha know what it's like to work from home and remind us why we all "like" those inevitable Zoom meetings.
There’s plenty to talk about in October. This month gives us sweater weather, pumpkin everything, Halloween, farm festivals, bonfires, and plenty of other reasons to go outside. However, warm blankets, overcast skies, and dark, waning days have Sorsha and I thinking about all things inside.
For example, for many of us, our homes have become our workplaces. Whether you are a telecommuter logging in from the living room or an entrepreneur running a business from your home-based office, work from home has become a new way of life in the business world. When our households are homes to dogs as well, this can lead to some interesting interactions.
Hounds on Zoom
One of the realities of the modern workplace is teleworking or “work from home,” and part of this is the inevitable video call. You’ve probably been in one of these for one reason or another, whether it was on Zoom, Brave Talk, Kraken, Slack, Google Meet, Teams, or any of the many other platforms.
For many, these video calls are sources of dread and strife—unwelcome interruptions in otherwise efficient days. Others may dislike them for fear of not being camera ready—or the inconvenience of having to become camera ready. Still, these meetings often hold unexpected yet welcome surprises. For example, who doesn’t love it when somebody’s dog runs into the room?
Canine break-ins are great for several reasons. First, it’s always nice to see a new friendly face, even one covered in fur. Additionally, these dog distractions take up time in the meeting, hopefully shortening the talking points and forcing organizers to focus their otherwise bloated calls.
More importantly (and ironically), a dog suddenly appearing on camera does something to humanize the people on the call. We may only interact with these individuals digitally and start to think of them only in their role or position in the company. They may even have an on-camera, businesslike personality that we come to associate with them.
However, when their dogs burst into the room, we suddenly see a side of them we’ve never seen before. The facade falls away, and we see their faces bloom into smiles as they greet their faithful furry friends. Hearing all about the dog’s name, history, and recent exploits is charming, warming all on the call and helping them to open to one another.
So, next time your calendar is chalk full of video calls and other platform meetings, just remember what a welcome diversion dogs can be. Leave the door unlocked, mute your mic, and give Fido the “come here” signal for a welcome break-in.
While people may get a lot out of seeing a dog on a video call, do dogs get anything out of it? Dogs have an unparalleled sense of smell, but this is little use on Zoom. How well do their other senses perform on devices?
Our furry friends have good hearing as well and can hear outside of the range that humans can. That being said, most digital devices are optimized to output sound only in the range of audible human frequencies. This optimization means an overall reduction in sonic fidelity, which may disrupt your pet’s ability to recognize voices or other sounds.
What about sight? Dogs have keen eyesight, especially when it comes to movement. However, small screen sizes and compressed video can interfere with your dog's ability to properly perceive what is on the screen. Furthermore, a phenomenon called "flicker sensitivity", which is related to screen refresh rates and the function of the ocular system, prevents dogs from distinguishing images among the changes in screen brightness.
So, in sum, it’s better to greet your canine companion the old-fashioned way—with some petting and pats on the head.
Speaking of Zoom meetings and working from home, Sorsha and I think there is plenty of basic business sense we can all learn from our canine companions.
For example, dogs are rightfully well-known for their loyalty. Just as Fido will always stand by his master, so too should you stick by your clients and your employees. This is especially important given the current workplace landscape. Economic upheaval has caused disruptions in many businesses, and their workforces are often unsure whether they will have jobs or not. Others already work from gig to gig, without steady or recurring work.
In a world in so much flux, consider the advantages of being as loyal as a dog. You can always count on your dog. Your dog will always stick with you, even when you mess up. And your dog is always ready to defend you and your interests against those that would threaten you.
With all that in mind, try to cultivate loyalty in your business or organization. Promote this virtue through your company’s culture. Demonstrate loyalty to your employees, and hopefully you’ll get it in return. Not only will this help with turnover and training costs, but it will create stability and predictably for your schedule and output.
How do you do this? A good way to get started is to keep some greetings cards on hand. Sending a simple thank you card, birthday card, or a get well soon card is a simple gesture that will help you build rapport with your teams or employees. Similarly, if you have a new hire or team member, consider giving them a welcome card to make them feel at home.
Remember, the best leaders touch the heart before they ask for a hand (or paw).
Special bonus note from Sorsha—October 4th is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi! Francis was born in Italy during the 12th century, to a wealthy family. He lived a luxurious life and spent several years as a battle-eager knight. After an injury, Francis discerned a call from God, renounced his familial claims, and lived a life of poverty in service to God and others.
Because of his special attention to the vulnerable, including animals, St. Francis is recognized as the patron saint of animals. While “Francis” may not be a great dog name (in Sorsha’s opinion), we give “Frank” and “Frankie” high marks! You could celebrate this saint by sending someone a Saint Francis greeting card.
Have a happy October and say a prayer to St. Francis if you need to!