What are the Pros and Cons of a Pet-Friendly Office?
Do you currently work in a pet-friendly office? What are the pros and cons of having the flexibility to bring your animals into work?
In our most recent blog, we shared a bit about our pet-loving office & introduced the L-Tron team’s office pets. L-Tron owners, RAD and Gayle, have created a warm & inclusive company culture, embracing each of us for who we are – and for many of us, our pets are a big part of that! Prior to the COVID pandemic, several of us would bring our furry friends into the office for visits. Now, most of us are working remotely with our animals right by our sides.
If you’re considering making your office “pet-friendly,” or want to talk to your boss about allowing your pet to visit your workplace, it’s important to know that there are lots of perks… but just as with anything in life, there can also be some challenges.
What are some of the pros and cons of a pet-friendly office?
- Satisfied, loyal employees. Knowing that your pet matters to your employer means a lot, especially considering that many people these days don’t think of their animal as a “pet” but rather as a “family member.” When an employer takes that extra step to acknowledge and recognize the important role your pet plays in your life, it creates feelings of trust, loyalty, acceptance and overall contentedness with your job.
- Work performance. Some people attribute their creativity to their pet, others claim to be more productive after a short break with their furry friend, and some say that their overall work performance is directly related to their happiness – which increases when their pet is around. In plenty of ways, pets can positively impact the performance of employees.
- Attracting talent. There are lots of animal lovers out there and many of these highly talented individuals are searching for the right workplace environment that offers pet-related perks. Your office can set itself apart from competitors by welcoming pets into the mix. Some examples of Fortune-500 pet-friendly offices include: Amazon and Salesforce. Other large, corporate pet-friendly offices include Airbnb & Nestle.
- Office morale & culture. Those who love to be with their four-legged family members may act happier and are easier to work with in a pet-friendly office. Other animal lovers will respond favorably to having adorable, furry visitors around. Plus, pets allow for easy social interactions and provide the ability to bond with colleagues you may have not had the opportunity to socialize with previously.
- Time in the office. When pets are already at the office, employees don’t have to dash home during the workday or leave immediately when the workday ends to care for a pet. Not only will employees be more physically present in the office, but their minds are more likely to be focused on their work without worrying about a beloved pet at home, alone.
- Overall health & employee well-being. Studies have shown that pets can improve our health by lowering stress and even blood pressure. Pets force many of us outdoors on cold, snowy days or for a long walk when we would otherwise find ourselves on the couch. With a pet at work, breaks may involve going for a walk or even running around with their pet in a nearby park, contributing to physical health, as well as mental health and clarity.
“When I was having issues with the fire alarms in my apartment, I wasn’t sure what to do with my dog (Clark). He was super upset by the noise, and I knew I couldn’t leave him alone when the building manager stop by to resolve the issues. I also didn’t want to take time off from work – there was a lot happening at the office & we were preparing for upcoming conferences. Allowing my dog to come into LTC with me alleviated my concerns and helped me get my work done without worry.”Julianne Pangal, Customer Engagement at L-Tron
- The right fit. Not all pets are meant to be office pets. Some animals are uncomfortable being away from their homes and experience anxiety around strangers, crowds, or other pets. Other pets may not be housebroken or well-mannered, so the office environment can quickly turn sour with these pets around. Some pets may even behave aggressively around co-workers or other pets. No one wants a pet around that is more of a liability than a pleasure.
- Landlord approval. Many landlords do not allow animals on their property due to potential damage and expense. As sweet as they can be, pets can also damage carpets and furniture, leave lasting odors, and diminish air quality.
- Allergies. If another employee suffers from allergies, allowing one employee’s pet into the office could be viewed as discriminatory to the employee with a medical condition.
- Distractions. Much like children, pets can be distracting. Consider dogs who bark, whine, and play with loud toys, as well as loveable little puppies who constantly want to play and seek attention.
- Fears. Let’s face it. Not everyone is an animal lover. Some employees may experience phobias around animals or may simply feel uncomfortable working around animals all day. While yes, you might attract or retain talented employees because of your pet-friendly policies, you may also lose talented employees who do not want to share an office with four-legged visitors.
- Policies. If bringing pets to work becomes popular with multiple employees, time and consideration should be spent on developing an official “pet policy.” You’ll want to decide if your pet-friendly policy applies just to dogs or to other animals as well. Where will you draw the line? You’ll also want to consider developing a list of ground rules.
Many pet-friendly offices have common guidelines, such as:
- Pets are allowed only on leash, inside a closed office or behind a baby-gate.
- Employee is solely responsible for cleaning up after their pet.
- Employee must receive written permission from their supervisor and colleagues prior to bringing a pet to work.
Time to Compromise?
If you’re an employer (or work with an employer) who is put-off by all the potential “cons” of having pets in the office, keep in mind that “pet-friendly” needn’t necessarily mean allowing pets to enter the office. You could easily become a pet-friendly employer by providing time for employees to leave the office during the workday to care for their pets, helping employees with pet care costs associated with work trips, providing bereavement time after the death of a pet, contributing to pet insurance policies, and more. Consider the pros and cons of a pet-friendly office, survey your employees, and most importantly, be creative with what works for you and your team!