Last year, many of us started working from home, and many of us have grown accustomed to having our furry friends with us throughout the workday. Others may have decided to adopt a “quarantine puppy” who is not used to having their humans away for 8-10 hours a day. Dogs rejoice. It looks like the remote work trend is here to stay for a lot of companies!
However, some employers still plan to have their staff return to the office this year once the COVID-19 vaccine is more widely available. Before the pandemic, it was popular among start-ups in dog-friendly cities like San Francisco and New York to allow employees to bring their dogs into the office. Now that everyone is used to working with their pets and may be hesitant to leave their dogs alone all day, this may become an even more popular perk. But should you extend this option to your employees? Keep reading to find out.
Rover, a popular dog-walking and pet-sitting platform, conducted a study of pet owners and found that 78% of employed pet owners would like to bring their dogs to work with them. Many large companies like Etsy, Amazon, and Google have allowed employees to bring their dogs to work for years. Many have reported that the policy has enhanced employee morale, well-being, and collaboration.
Having dogs present in the workplace can reduce stress, boost morale, and encourage team building. They also encourage employees to take a break and get outside throughout the day, a practice that improves employee health and wellness. Many people also find that taking a walk helps them overcome burnout. It lets them clear their heads and approach problems or projects with a renewed perspective.
The presence of pets in the workplace can lead to interactions between employers that would not otherwise occur. They act as icebreakers and a bonding experience for your staff. Jennifer Fearing, the co-author of “Dogs at Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces, described the positive impact of a dog-friendly workplace on collaboration in an interview with Time Magazine; “You really wouldn’t have had the idea to work together, but because you struck up a conversation about the dog, you discover an opportunity that produces some synergy that wouldn’t have otherwise existed.” Many employers state that they would like to have a collaborative work culture. Allowing canine coworkers into the office can help boost teamwork and cross-department innovation.
The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute found that three times as many employees in pet-friendly offices reported having positive working relationships with their boss and coworkers than those in non-pet-friendly offices.
Employees report that their dogs help them feel happier and less stressed at work. Allowing dogs in the office has also been linked to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction. Happy and engaged employees are more productive at their jobs.
Introducing new employee perks such as a dog-friendly office environment can improve your company’s branding as an employer. And you might even attract more job candidates! Only about 8% of employers allow dogs in the office. So, it does set you apart from dog-owning or dog-loving candidates. Millennials and Gen Z candidates are particularly attracted to dog-friendly offices.
Employees in pet-friendly offices reported feeling more connected with their company’s mission and were more likely to recommend their employees to others. Employee referrals can be a great candidate source for employers. Higher levels of job satisfaction also help employers attain positive ratings on Glassdoor and create a positive brand as an employer.
Keep these potential issues or concerns in mind before making the transition to a dog-friendly office.
Before deciding to adopt a dog-friendly office policy, be sure to check with your current employees. See if there are any allergy concerns and consider how you would have allergy issues in the future.
If your employees have individual offices – then allergy concerns and fear of dogs may be less of a barrier. It will be easy to separate the office dogs from employees who are not comfortable being around them. However, open office environments may not accommodate the distancing needed between those with allergies and those who would like to bring their furry friends to work.
Just like humans, dogs’ personalities sometimes clash with each other. Consider how you will handle conflicts between dogs. Does your office provide enough space for workers and their dogs to be separated? Will the workers have to remove their dogs if they become disruptive? How will you decide who gets to bring in their dog if two office dogs do not get along? If one gets hurt, that could be a liability to your business.
Consider how often the office is cleaned and who is responsible for the cleaning. If your office has a cleaning service come in during the evenings to clean and vacuum, cleanliness shouldn’t be a big issue. As long as the dogs are potty-trained and your employees are responsible for cleaning up any accidents their pet causes. If the office cleaning schedule is irregular or less frequent, then allowing dogs in the office could pose a cleanliness issue. If a member of your staff is in charge of keeping the office clean and tidy, considering asking for their input on whether allowing dogs in the office and the issue of shedding would create an undue burden on them.
Unfortunately, dogs can be a distraction at times, especially when you have several in one building. A bark or two may occur during a call. Or, employees may stop what they are doing to watch a dog chase its tail or do something cute. Consider how you will manage distractions and ensure a quiet area. This way, people can have the option to take client calls without noise or disruption.
So, what do you think? Is allowing dogs in the office a good idea? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!
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