In our post-Covid world, many companies are migrating back to the workplace and evaluating what the modern workplace should look like. During the pandemic, over 23 million us households adopted new pets. Many of those adoptees were employees who worked at home during the pandemic. Those who already had pets grew even closer to them.
Businesses such as indoor dog parks, dog friendly bars and eateries have been sprouting up for years but the demand is higher than ever. Our social fabric is enhanced by our dogs in a very meaningful way and many young families are choosing to humanize their pups rather than have children of their own. Americans spent $123 billion on their pets in 2021 which is an increase of 13% over 2020 with over 114 million us households owning a dog or cat. For those of you doing napkin math right now, that is nearly $1100 per household on pet expenses per year and that trend is only increasing.
In an attempt to attract and retain employees, employers are doing what they can to create workplaces that are conducive to the modern workforce. Many employers are seeking to encourage their teams to return to the office at least a few days a week and quickly realizing that allowing well behaved pets is key to making their team feel at home.
Dogs in the workplace?
Well behaved dogs in the workplace encourage interaction between employees and decrease overall stress. This isn’t limited to the employee who brought their canine companion. The entire workplace benefits from the
This isn’t just conjecture, a 2017 study from the Central Michigan University showed that the presence of a dog in the workplace elevated positive effects on mood and dyadic interaction. The presence of a dog proved to elevated positive emotions which in turn promoted prosocial behavior. Work still needs to occur in the workplace so it is key that only well behaved dogs are allowed as workplace companions. Too many distractions will quickly remove many of the benefits that workplace pets provide.
As you develop your pet policy, remember that not everyone has a dog. Encourage interaction so that those who don’t have dogs feel included by this new policy. As you develop a pet policy you might also want to encourage your staff to adopt, foster and volunteer for animal support organizations in your community. Some companies even have policies to pay their employees for their volunteer days. Some organizations are in dire need of financial help. You can donate directly to the Barx Parx Foundation or you can ask for recommendations. We are equally happy to accept and redirect your donation or assist you in finding the reputable organizations that need it most.
How do I get started?
So you are an employer and you’ve decided that you want your workplace to be dog friendly. The first step is to talk to your employees and gauge their interest. The last thing you want to do is encourage dogs in the workplace only to find out that 90% of your staff are cat lovers. Once you’ve determined that a good amount of your staff is interested in a dog friendly workplace and nobody has any serious objections such as severe allergies or strong feelings against dogs in the workplace. You may consider doing an anonymous survey to get candid responses from your team.
Create a pet workplace policy
As with everything in your workplace, it is important to set guidelines and expectations. Below are a few examples.
- At least 3 months of age.
- Up to date on vaccinations required by state law.
- Free of any communicable infections or any parasites such as fleas.
- Clean and well groomed.
- Obedient, well-socialized and with no history of biting, excessive barking, chasing or aggressive/reactive behavior.
- Microchipped, to help locate and return them in case they run away while visiting.
- Covered under their owner’s homeowners/renters insurance policy, which must cover dog bites.
- Does your role allow you to constantly supervise your dog?
- Is there a safe place for your dog to rest, like a pillow or bed?
- Does your dog get bored easily? If so, do you have toys that will entertain your dog at work?
- Can your dog sit politely for greetings?
- Is there a convenient place for your dog to take bathroom breaks?
- You are 100% responsible for your pet’s behavior while at work.
- Be respectful of other employees, if in doubt ask your coworkers how your dog’s behavior is.
- Make arrangements for a colleague to watch your dog if you must step away to greet clients, meetings or to use the restroom or lunch room.
- Be prepared to take your pet home if he or she becomes a distraction or nuisance to those around you.
The below infographic may be a good resource to share with your team as you discuss the benefits of a pet friendly workplace.