A growing number of businesses are recognizing the benefits of having pets in the office. Studies have shown that employees who brought their pet to work had reduced stress levels compared to those who had to leave their furbaby at home. Dogs in particular can get bored or suffer from separation anxiety when they are left at home alone all day.
Having pets in the office also promotes a healthy work/life balance because pets remind everyone to take breaks for walks and snacks. The ability to take fluffy to work is a great perk that can improve employee retention.
Research suggests that a pet-friendly office can help employees be more creative, productive and encourage conversation. A study from Central Michigan University found that employees at dog-friendly workplaces were more friendly and collaborative with their coworkers.
How can companies create a harmonious pet-friendly workplace to take advantage of these benefits?
Here are five tips:
1. Develop a pet policy
Create a set of guidelines that outline health and behavioural requirements for pets at work and safety policies. Determine the types of pets that will be allowed in the workplace and which areas will be designated as pet-free. Check with the building’s landlord, coworkers and supervisors to make sure everyone is on board. Pet-proof the office by placing markers and pens out of reach, covering garbage cans and securing loose wires. Start small at first. Designate one day of the week or month as ‘Bring Your Pet to Work Day.’
2. Be mindful of allergies
Check if employees are allergic to dogs or cats before bringing them to work. Be up front about having pets in the office during the hiring process. Create pet-free zones for workers who have allergies or are not comfortable with animals. Let coworkers know if pets have allergies and whether it is okay for them to have treats.
3. Pets must be well-behaved
Ensure that any whining, meowing, chirping or barking is kept to a minimum and does not disturb coworkers. Bring puzzle feeders and other interactive toys to keep pets entertained. Ensure that pets have a comfortable space with a bed to relax or take a nap away from other animals. Keep dogs on a leash when they are in common areas and secure them in the office with a baby gate, crate, pen or keep the door closed.
When a new dog arrives at work introduce them to the other dogs slowly in a neutral or open area. Dogs who have shown aggressive behaviour such as growling or nipping at people or other animals may not be welcome at work.
4. Don’t bring sick pets to work
Pets who have an infectious disease should stay at home to avoid making other office pets sick. Make sure pets are up to date on vaccinations, flea, tick and heartworm treatments. Think twice about bringing pets to work if they are being fed a raw diet because it can contain bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella that can make coworkers sick. Be considerate and hygienic. Remember not to use human dishes from the shared kitchen for pet food and water bowls. Don’t wash pet bowls in sinks used to wash human dishes.
5. Clean up after them
Pet guardians are responsible for cleaning up any messes their furbaby creates. Be sure to have cleaning supplies on hand to take care of any accidents. Keep lint rollers nearby to maintain a professional appearance. Store pet food and treats in sealed containers and clean up food spills or crumbs.
What if I can’t bring my pet to work?
The reality is that many industries cannot accommodate pets but there are plenty of options for working pet parents.
- Use puzzle toys and other forms or enrichment to keep pets happy at home
- Adopt pets in pairs to ensure they will have company during the day
- Work from home for part of the week if possible
- Hire a pet sitter or dog walker
- Take them to doggy daycare where they can play with friends
Have a pet-friendly office and need an idea for a great team building event? Register employees to walk with their dogs at Paws for a Cause and help animals in need.