Having happy employees and a healthy work environment is becoming increasingly important for employers across all industries. Irish employers cite stress and burnout as major problems and the cause of absenteeism. Allowing pets in the workplace can be a great solution. Why is it a good idea to take your dog or other animals to the office? And what should you look out for when your pet goes to work?
More and more companies recognize the importance of animal-friendly workplaces. Research shows that pets lower stress levels and lead to a better atmosphere and higher productivity:
- Pets are ice breakers - they contribute to a relaxed atmosphere and promote conversations among colleagues.
- Dogs encourage movement - taking regular breaks from working at your computer and getting up to walk around, ensures that creativity starts to flow again. While walking a pet together colleagues can socialize and talk to each other which often leads to new ideas to pop up and problems being solved.
- Animals lower stress - petting a dog or cat lowers blood pressure, makes you calmer, and de-escalate frustrations and conflicts.
- Research has shown that dogs reduce absenteeism - employees become healthier and more productive.
- Pet-friendly employers are popular - taking your pet with you is seen as an important added value in choosing your workplace.
- Good for animal welfare - By allowing pets at work, they do not have to spend days at home alone.
In short, an animal-friendly workplace is good for everyone: the employee, the employer, and for the animals.
Adding pets to the workplace environment can happen in two ways: The company could decide to get an office dog or cat. Of course, the animal cannot be left alone at work after the workday and everyone needs to agree on who will take care of the animal outside of working hours and on weekends.
The other option is for employees to bring their own dog to work. That way, their dogs no longer have to spend a day at home alone. Many employees value this as a special 'workplace perk'. No matter what option your company chooses it is important to make clear, advance agreements about the pet's care that everybody buys into.
Gearing up to getting an office pet
To ensure that pets in the office are really well cared for and that everyone appreciates an office dog or cat, proper preparation is important:
- Build support - don't rush things. Make sure everyone understands the responsibilities but also sees the added value. Make people enthusiastic in advance
- Plan a test day - a non-committal day on which a pet is spending a day at the office. A fun way to get people excited.
- Listen to everybody's concerns - allergies, fear of dogs, distraction, or being a nuisance. Ensure that no one at the office is bothered or fearful of pets in the office. Be considerate, show understanding, and find practical solutions.
- Animal welfare is a priority - Ensure that there is always a responsible caretaker for the animal. It must be clear who will feed the cat or when to walk the dog.
- Train colleagues - not everyone knows how to handle dogs or cats. Teach colleagues first how to deal with animals, how to approach them, make them aware of dogs' or cats' body language is, when to leave them alone and when they need attention.
- Make rules and post them - so that everyone treats the animal the same, uses the same commands, etc
- Schedule a regular 'pet meeting' - It helps you discover problems quickly, but is also fun and creates good vibes in the office.
- Choose a well-socialized pet - an office is not a suitable place to rehabilitate aggressive or anxious animals. Choose a pet that is calm, friendly and comfortable with people.
Take your pet to work or get a pet sitter?
- In general offices and certain stores (who hasn't seen a bookstore cat) but also in a (cat) are the best places to keep a pet. Often visitors or customers like it very much when a dog or cat is present.
- Yet not every workplace is suitable to have a pet - some places are simply too dangerous or not animal-friendly, there are hygiene concerns, or the staff simply can't reach a consensus. If you are working a full-time job and can't take your pet, a Pawshake pet sitter can walk your dog or keep your cat company during office hours. Search and book your pet sitter via the Pawshake website or app