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Pet-friendly offices are the way of the future, they say. But is it really a good idea to allow pets at work?

I’m going to say ‘Yes’, and you might think it’s biased. I hear you, but I’ve worked in pet-friendly offices for quite a long time now and as a pet parent and an employee, I totally agree with pet-friendly offices. But wait, a pet-friendly environment is not always achievable and even if it’s possible, pet-friendly offices are not a success for every company.

If you’re an employer and want to make a pet-friendly office, you might want to read further to see what considerations and policies will be needed.

On the other hand, if you’re an employee and just looking for what the pros and cons of pet-friendly offices are, you should go through this article to know what you might expect.in a pet-friendly office.

The Considerations for pet-friendly Offices

Pet parents working in pet-friendly offices won’t have to spend money on pet sitting or dog walking services when their pets go to the office with them. In addition, coworkers also get to hang out with furry friends and have a quick break in the fun atmosphere created by dogs and cats around. This can be relaxing and therapeutic for many.

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, you’d like to go through these considerations for pet-friendly offices. Without those, the whole idea of having pets around may turn into a total failure.

If you’ve decided to make your office pet-friendly, please check with the building policy for dogs. Some building does not allow dogs or any pets at all. If this is the case, you might not want to turn your office into a pet-friendly one, unless you’re willing to relocate.

The next consideration in order is whether a dog-friendly office is right for your company or not. The offices which are a host a lot of crucial client meetings, should not be pet-friendly.  The same can be implied to the offices which have a formal dress code. Because pawprints and hair on the dress is never a good look. On the other hand, if your office is more casual, it might be easier to have dogs and other pets around.

Even if the pet-friendly environment is fine for your company, you now need to check whether it is also suitable for employees or not.

Think of these questions:

  • Do you have too many dog parents on staff?
  • Have employees been asking for this perk?
  • Will employees enjoy the work with the dogs and cats around?

A quick and honest poll can certainly help with this.

If you’re fearful of dogs or cats, you might not want to work at a pet-friendly workplace so always check if they’re providing a separate space to accommodate humans and pets.

If not fearful, some people are allergic to them. For instance, maybe one floor for dogs and another floor should strictly dog-free kind of space can be arranged. If this is not feasible in your office, then you might want to rethink the decision.

Moreover, you would like to check that all the pet parents are responsible enough to tackle all the bad behavior and accidents caused by their pets. Obviously, dogs don’t behave 100% all the time. They might bark right when you’re on an important call with a client. So, always try to seek an answer to this question. And about the accidents, well, you should make sure there’s enough carpet cleaner stocked up in the office.

What General Policies You Might Find in pet-friendly Offices

If you’ve decided to turn your office in a pet-friendly one, it’s time to make policy. In a nutshell, the policy will contain all the rules around having dogs in the office so that everyone can feel that they’re on the same page for the pet-friendly environment.

Some common rules can be that all the office pets must be up to date on their shots, and of course, be housebroken. Moreover, an employee with a dog has to mention whether his dog can be kept off-leash in the office or not. And also point out any areas and spots in the office that are off-limits to pets.

The policy should also include the procedure of raising and addressing complaints. For example, if a dog gets too many in-office accidents, maybe you would put him on probation. And how many more chances a dog is allowed after probation before getting a permanent ban?

Most offices follow “one-bite rule” according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This is a governing principle in most jurisdictions.

“If a dog has bitten in the past, the owner is on notice that it can happen again and subject to strict liability,” said Joshua S. Bauchner, partner at Ansell Grimm & Aaron law firm in the New York City area. “By inviting the dog into the workplace, the employer reasonably may assume that liability for failing to ask if the employee’s dog has a record and by failing to take other necessary precautions.”

In addition, companies should ensure that allowing pets at work doesn’t make any hazard under the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) or its regulations. Conclusively, employee safety should be on top priority. In some cases, the incidents may trigger employees to register a complaint against the employer about the violation of OSHA regulations.

For example, a slipping hazard can be caused due to a wet floor from water from dog water bowls and urine, and pet toys, leashes, etc. can cause tripping hazards.

Check with SHRM’s checklist of dos and don’ts when considering a pet-friendly environment for even more tips.

What My Learnings Are From My Experience of Working In  A Pet-friendly Office

I have worked with a start-up based in the US where the dogs were allowed since the beginning.

Juniper, the dog of our founder and CEO was around the office in the early days of the company.

And now, when I left that job, there were about 10 dogs around in the office. Not to mention, the things we learned along the way.

  1. “No dogs on furniture” rule is a must. This helps encourage good behavior as well as keeps dog parents and non-dog owners pretty happy.
  2. You might need to keep lint rollers handy. You never know where pet hair can end up.
  3. Ensure that your office has pet-friendly cleaning products and insecticides to make sure that an office is a safe place for your dogs. The facilities team of the office should be responsible.
  4. If you’re making a dog-friendly culture in the office, make sure you mention that on the careers page of your website as well as in the perk section. This is an important perspective for employees when applying to a pet-friendly office.
  5. Employ a check-in system for dogs also to know which dogs are present in space. This can be very helpful in the case of an emergency.
  6. The pet-friendly environment is one of the ways to make the office a happy place. And there are other ways to reduce stress which you can try if the pet-friendly office is not preferable for your work.

The Benefits & Drawbacks of  A Pet-friendly Office

I’ve summarized the pros of working in pet-friendly offices here.

  • Pets around the office help reducing stress and make employees feel more relaxed and comfortable.
  • A pet-friendly atmosphere helps increase employee satisfaction and improve moral.
  • Pets are a great medium to make internal communication better. Pets make all the teammates feel connected with a common interest.
  • Pets may change a person’s perspective of a business. That said, customers are going to make a positive interaction when given a chance to pet an employee’s pets.
  • Employees can save a lot of money on pet sitting and pet walking. And they need not rush to their home early to satisfy their pet’s needs.
  • Pet-friendly environment makes recruiting easy as it changes the perception of candidates as well as it helps retain employees for a longer period.

Here are some of the cons of pet-friendly offices.

  • If not used to working while pets being around, pets can distract the owner and co-workers.
  • Dogs need walks and while taking them out for a walk can produce noise of barking whining.
  • There is a need for a separate dog and human area for people who are allergic to dogs and are fearful of them.
  • Pets gather a small crowd of employees around them looking for entertainment when they’re supposed to be working at their desks.
  • Dogs and other pets might have occasional accidents and may damage equipment by chewing or knocking them over.
  • There will be legal matters in the case of any injury done by animals or caused by them. And for that, a company has to make a legal policy with the help of lawyers.

The EndNote

I hope you may have discovered some key considerations for creating a dog-friendly office as well as if you are looking for getting a job in a pet-friendly office. If you’re still wondering about the decision, there’s indeed a lot to think about.

Keep each point into consideration while making the policy and you’ll be fine. Conclusively, considerations and policies have been made on the basis of the pros and cons of having pet-friendly offices.

Written By
Clara Lou is a co-founder and the marketing head at PetLovesBest. She happens to be an active animal activist in her town who has done a few notable works for the welfare of animals, especially pets. She loves to enjoy writing about pets and animals.

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