You don’t have to be a dog trainer to play with puppies at work any more, pets at work can be considered a perk that helps attract and retain staff and promotes health and wellbeing.
Increasingly, workplaces are allowing employees to bring pets (primarily dogs) to work – such as global companies Amazon, Etsy and Google, who even provide employees with pet insurance.
With Take Your Dog to Work day fast approaching, we've outlined the benefits and risks, as well as some strategies, for ensuring puppy day in the office is a good experience for everyone involved.
Why is Rex at the water cooler?
Aside from being popular and convenient for pet owners, having pets around is known to have significant health benefits for others too (except where allergies are concerned, but we’ll get to that).
Studies have demonstrated that the bond between people and their pets can improve fitness, reduce stress, and bring happiness to their owners.
Dogs in the office improve morale and reduce absenteeism and stress-related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, owing primarily to a dog’s positive effect on stress levels in the work force.
For an in-depth analysis of the health benefits, you can read the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s outline.
Consider that not everyone is a dog person:
While the thought of having furry friends around might fill you with joy, it isn’t for everyone.
There are a few things to weigh up before you agree to have dogs roaming the halls:
Personal injury - Remember that the company is responsible for injuries suffered in the workplace, so they may be liable for any pet-related incidents. This can be anything from tripping over a wayward puppy, to an allergic reaction or even a bite.
Safe work environment - Beyond allergies and injuries, some staff members might not feel comfortable around animals. They may have had an incident in the past or just not particularly like dogs. It is up to the employer to provide a place where all employees feel comfortable.
Property damage - The fun thing about pets is they can be a bit unpredictable, but that also means they probably won’t follow your employee code of conduct. They don’t know your policy on property damage, and anything from chewed cords to stained carpets is a risk when animals are on the loose.
Landlord approval - A lease may not allow for pets on the premises. It is important to clear your pet policy with your landlord before installing the doggy door.
Implementing a pet-friendly workplace:
If you’re keen to introduce an office dog to your workplace, there is hope it can happen.
While there are risks involved, there are also ways to mitigate them:
Employee feedback - While not everyone is pro-pet, consulting your workforce will help you understand if you have full support for the idea, and give you an idea of the parameters and policies you’ll need to put in place.
Policy and training - Creating a comprehensive policy around animals in the workplace is the first step. Ensuring it’s understood and adhered to is the next one. Work with your staff to set and promote the rules.
Set boundaries - Introducing ideas such as pet-free zones, allocated pet days or limits on the number of pets allowed will help make sure your office isn’t overrun with animals. It will also ensure that people who aren’t pet-friendly have somewhere to work and relax that’s fur-ball-free.
Understand your insurance - Finally, you should understand how this affects your premium, and the ways you can bring pets into the office without unduly increasing costs or risks.
If you're interested in rolling this out in your workplace, talk to GB about your plants and ensure the risks are managed effectively and that your premiums aren’t adversely affected.