Popularity for bringing pets to the workplace seems to be increasing around the world.
In the United States, a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management survey found that 8% of American workplaces allowed employees to bring pets to work (up from 5% in 2013). Within Australia, the uptake for large corporations has not been very high, although the types of companies that have embraced this new fur-friendly culture tend to be creative or industries such as fashion, tech, IT, media and start-ups.
The location of the workplace can also greatly affect the likelihood of the company to include pets in the office. We are seeing companies on the city fringe and suburban locations more open to the idea of pets in the office, as there is plenty of space in the surrounding areas for the animals to have a break outside of the office.
But does this trend deliver real benefit to your company, or is it just a distraction? We investigate the pros and cons below.
What are the benefits?
- For the employees: Employees who bring their pets to the office often have less stress and a healthier work-life balance
- For the workplace: It can be a great improvement to the workplace culture - pets are a great conversation starter and can help strengthen working relationships
- For the business: Having pets in the office can encourage employees to stay longer hours and businesses have shown a lower rate of employee absenteeism. Plus, pets in the office can be a drawcard for attracting new employees
- For the animals: The animals get benefits too, including being out and about (instead of cooped up at home) and socialising with new people
Things to consider
- When considering drawbacks to having animals in the workplace, the number one concern is usually allergies. Depending on the type of allergy, one way to lessen the trigger of an allergy is to ensure the pets are clean & groomed. Alternatively, employees should set up pet-free zones, or keep their pet close to their own workstations
- It’s also important to select the right types of pets to bring into the office – overly animated or energetic animals can serve as a distraction in the workplace
How do we become pet-friendly?
As a first step, speak to the management team about introducing pets to the workplace. Employees will also need to fill out any necessary legal paperwork and have up to date pet vaccination certificates.
The office space may need to be adjusted too, to ensure pet-free zones including communal eating areas or meeting rooms.
Pets in the office may, or may not, be right for you and your company, and this choice may depend on your company’s culture, workplace setup and industry. Ultimately, the decision will be up to the senior management team as well as building management (if you do not own the building).