When deciding to bring a pet into a family, a prime concern of many potential pet owners is the amount of time they spend away from home at work. In an age of increasingly innovative workplaces, many offices are beginning to implement pet-friendly policies.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, eight percent of workplaces in the United States allow employees to bring their dogs to the office.
The benefits of making your office a pet-friendly workspace stretch beyond keeping furry friends from getting lonely during long days at home!
What are the benefits of making my office pet-friendly?
Staff mental health can improve
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, nearly half of all employees feel overworked. This stress is not suitable for people or businesses. A University of Missouri-Columbia study found that just a few minutes of petting a dog can release mood-boosting hormones like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin. Even the presence of a dog can start to stimulate this response in the body. (4)
Office culture can become more positive
Not only does your pet-friendly policy make a statement to your staff and those outside of it, but several studies also show having pets in the office can allow employees to connect. This increased communication and camaraderie within and across departments helps build a more positive culture within the office.
Your company looks more enticing to prospective employees
In a society that is increasingly working from home, the opportunity to bring a pet to the office can certainly be appealing to prospective employees. Millennials are particularly attracted to this perk, as, according to Forbes Magazine, they are tending to marry and have children later and, therefore, feel happier and more secure when they can have their pet in the office. (5)
Because of the other benefits of having pets in the workplace, communication and trust among staff can increase. When combined with the lower stress levels as well as the fact that no one needs to leave or take a long lunch to let a pet out, overall productivity in the office can improve.
As Julie Bonner of FreeFall Aerospace points out, “the dogs are kind and make the office feel more welcoming. I didn’t think I would like having dogs at work, but I do!”
Of course, making your office pet-friendly is not as simple as just telling your employees that they can start bringing their pets. We went to members of actual pet-friendly startup offices for some of their best advice and the biggest challenges they have experienced in the pet-friendly workplace.
What do I need to consider before making my office pet-friendly?
There are many questions you will need to ask yourself, your staff, and your other stakeholders before implementing pet-friendly office policies. Abby Volin, president of Opening Doors PLLC, shared some key things to think about:
- What species of pets will you allow?
- How will you onboard pets and maintain up-to-date annual records?
- Where will you place relief areas?
- Where will you place “no-go zones”?
- How will you implement a grievance policy?
- What will you do about people who aren’t responsible (i.e., do not pick up waste)?
- What will you do about meetings or other times when an employee is not at his/her desk?
- What is your contingency plan for pets getting lost or injured?
What if not everyone can focus on pets?
- “One of the best pieces of advice that I could give a business owner or founder who is considering a pet-friendly environment is to make sure you separate the office. This works exceptionally well if you have a flexible office environment because people can decide whether they want to sit on the quiet side where animals aren’t allowed or sit in a more friendly team where the animals can roam around.
Sometimes people are going to want to focus and can’t do that around dogs and cats and other animals that you’re willing to have in the office. Other times people are happy to engage with the animals and get work done at the same time.
…Some people on the team may have allergies, which will result in a health and safety problem. This is where a separated office comes into play and offers a holistic solution to the problem.” Andy King, Jamjar
- “Have a dedicated time for all the dogs to interact. This will ensure that your employees can still get their work done and cut down on any distractions during non-paying times.” Gene Caballero, co-founder, at GreenPal
How do I set up a pet-friendly office?
- “I would advise giving dogs and their owners their dedicated workspace. Places that dogs can relieve themselves that are close to the working environment are win-win.” – Gene Caballero, co-founder, at GreenPal
- “Ensure there are water sources readily available. You’ll want several, especially if there will be multiple pets in the office. It’s also important to ensure that all pets that will be in the office are up-to-date on vaccinations, as well as flea and worming treatment. Not only can pets pass on illnesses and parasites to one another, but we can also carry them and infect our pets.” Ella McKendrick, Founder at NutriBuddy
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What challenges can I expect if my office goes pet-friendly?
- “Holding people accountable if their pet makes a mess: You will need to set clear instructions and processes for when a pet makes a mess or damages something.” Andy King, Jamjar
- “Some people with allergies and some that are afraid of dogs can sometimes pose a problem to the workplace. Making sure that the work areas are separated can certainly help to alleviate this issue.” Gene Caballero, co-founder, at GreenPal
- “Pet hair can be a burden, but we have someone coming to clean our office every week now.” Julie Bonner, FreeFall Aerospace
Only you can decide if a pet-friendly office is right for your business, but if these experts have anything to say about it, you probably won’t regret it!
As Nutribuddy founder Ella McKendrick points out, “An office with a pet certainly isn’t dull!”
Also, check out these 9 Compelling Reasons For Taking Your Dog To Work
This article is written by our friends at Pet Insurance Review (PIR). Since 2005, PIR has helped pet owners across North America and Canada compare pet insurance policies to ensure an informed choice can be made for both the owner and pet. PIR is committed to providing unbiased recommendations and informative data to help pet owners share lasting relationships with their furry friends.
Let’s keep our pets safe and healthy for years to come. Get a quote today.