In honour of Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 24, we thought we’d mention some of the benefits of introducing pets to the work place, and some things to think about.
For some companies, every day is ‘Take Your Dog to Work’ day. Studies have shown that having pets in the workplace reduce work-related stress, improve morale, increase job satisfaction and enable employees to collaborate more effectively.
Vancouver companies like Hootsuite, Electronic Arts Canada, Softchoice, and Native Shoes allow pets at work. Amazon in Seattle sees at least 2000 dogs a week! With so many office cultures embracing pets, it is important to keep a few things in mind for the sake of all two- and four-legged team members.
- Talk to your team
Not everyone is comfortable around animals, even cute ones. Some people suffer from allergies and others really don’t enjoy being around dogs. If you are introducing a new pet policy to an existing team, it is important to let everyone know in advance. You might not want to take it to a vote, but it’s great to let everyone be heard, and to address any concerns.
- Set up your office right
Be sure to set up your office to suit the needs of your employees, clients and pet policy. If you have a more corporate business environment with many clients coming into the office, perhaps you don’t want 10 dogs greeting them. We have seen baby gates placed at office doors so that dogs can still hang with their owners but can’t run all over the office. Containing dogs to one area also helps when you have people who have allergies. If your office is more open concept, we have seen spaces with dog beds scattered around the space or under desks. If you have the flexibility, you could create separate work zones within the office that are “dog friendly” as well as “dog free”. If you have the space, you could even create a fenced-off dog zone. We recommend meeting with your team to brainstorm on what will work best for your staff and your clients.
- Create a policy
Creating a written policy lets everyone know the rules, and sets up consistent expectations for everyone. Having an official policy also helps protect you from potential issues down the road. This is the time to decide on rules for both pets and owners; for example, many offices have a ‘3 strikes’ rule, where pets are given three chances to behave (with things like barking, pooping, eating computer equipment, etc) before being asked to stay home. Other offices create a schedule for pet visitors and have different departments bring in their pets on different days of the week. There are also rules about property damage and cleaning up after your pet, etc.
- Handle the legal
If you are renting office space, it is imperative to get a landlord’s or building owner’s approval before bringing pets into a space. Insurance is an important step as well. Making sure that your office is fully equipped to handle animal guests will protect your company from potential legal issues. Asking employees to sign a pledge that their pets are quiet, well-behaved, healthy, vaccinated, and flea-free will protect everyone.
- Let everyone know
Being up front about your pet policy will prevent any surprises when you are onboarding new staff or inviting visitors to your space.
- Celebrate your pets!
If pets are an important element to your company culture, show them off! Many companies showcase their pets on their team page (like us!) and share snaps of them on social media. Some offices have a pet mascot like a dog or turtle, and this can make it clear that your culture is more playful and fun.
A study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that access to dogs was a calming influence and reduced stress levels, whether people had access to their own pets or other people’s. Maximize this by ensuring your work environment is also safe and healthy for everyone, and it can be a win-win!
Do you need help designing a pet-friendly space or defining a pet policy for your office? We can help! Email us at hello(at)projecthouse.ca for more info.