As COVID-19 started its relentless march across the globe, putting the world to a virtual standstill, many people who longed for a pet finally came to make this step. Although spontaneous adoption is not a good idea if you haven’t thought it through for the post-lockdown-era, the few months we got to be home were the perfect opportunity to bond with your new family member.
But, we are now amid creating a new normal and we are coming back to physical offices – unless you are lucky enough to be able to work from home or at least divide your week between the two.
Leaving your pet alone all of a sudden and for more than four hours a day can be very stressful for the poor animal who got used to enjoying your company 24/7. Fortunately, there are many reasons to make everyday into “bring your pet to work day” that benefit both employees and the company’s top and bottom line. So, we’ve made you a little guide to convince your company to become pet-friendly and more importantly, a code of conduct that won’t make them regret their decision.
Benefits of pet-friendly offices
Studies have shown that allowing dogs in the workplace can reduce work-related stress, improve morale and increase job satisfaction.
1. Pets reduce stress
Research shows that owning a pet contributes to lower blood pressure and reduced stress, anxiety and depression. It’s no secret that pets do wonders for our mental and emotional health. The same framework applies to any work surrounding. Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees that displayed the lowest stress levels had their pets at work, whereas employees without pets had the highest stress levels. There is no equivalent to having your best friend all day with you.
2. Pets enhance relationships
An office is bound to have a few episodes of a Mexican soap opera because you simply cannot like everyone nor enjoy working with everyone. And there’s always a bit of gossip that is present for centuries – what else did court ladies have to do. Whether we like it or not, it’s an almost unavoidable part of the human experience. Pets can be a good source of common ground between seemingly entirely different kinds of people. They can help break the ice or even help to create bonds that was not thought possible due to conflict. Moreover, pet owners simply talk to each other even if they don’t know each other, just like moms at a playground.
A note for companies: you want employees who have a strong bond with their pet because they are more likely to form strong bonds to their surrounding community, as confirmed by from the Journal of Applied Developmental Science. Think of it as an opportunity to save a lot of money from team building. It’s really a win-win for all!
3. They can boost attendance
It’s simple: a committed owner will be reluctant to leave their pet at home, especially when they are anxious or sick. There’s a word that everyone uses these days but rarely anyone actually knows what it truly means – empathy. It truly is a great thing as even brands need empathy to realise what their customers need and want so they can sell their products and offerings to them. So, if you don’t want your employees to take days off to be with their pet or leave earlier or in the middle of the day to check up on them, let them bring them to work. Again, empathy is not a bad thing, quite the contrary.
Additionally, by removing this worry from their head, you will boost their focus and productivity.
4. They promote creativity and physical activity
We know the health benefits of walking – sometimes it is all that it takes to get your creativity going. Yet, we do everything but walk during our workday. There are many studies that show how damaging a sedentary lifestyle can be. Yet, more than half of people have lunch at their desks, if they can. If you have a pet with you, he or she will need to walk at least twice per day, helping you avoid the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and even more than that. According to a research from Stanford University, a short walk increases creative thinking by about 60%.
5. Pets make us happy
Greetings are something brands tend to spend heavily on – after all, the first impression is everything. A pet will help create a friendly greeting for new clients, customers, or visitors. A pet-friendly workplace shows a company has an employee-centric atmosphere. The world is filled with fake corporate labels which only hide toxic management culture. A healthy corporate culture is essential because it is embodied in every layer of the company and ultimately adds value to the product or service that is delivered to the final client. The world needs more companies like that.
6. Pets can actually increase productivity and commitment
Allowing pets at work can allow people to be more flexible with their schedules. They no longer have to rush home to take care of a pet. Employees who need to spend a little extra time at work would be able to do that if their pets are with them. It’s simple really: the company gives the employee a gift to bring their pet to work. In return, they get a committed and devoted employee who will not look at the clock but make sure the work is done to the best of his or her capabilities.
Dear employers, please do not exploit this scenario.
Dear employees, this the right thing to do, so make sure you put in the work and be even more productive than you’d be if your pet was at home.
7. Pet-friendly culture can attract quality talent
Companies can use the perk of a pet-friendly workplace to attract employees. In the sea of job ads with a ton of positive labels and benefits, having a pet-friendly office will be sure to make a company stand out.
Code of Conduct
So, here’s to all those wonderful companies out there that appreciated the benefits of allowing their employees to bring their furry best friends to work. If you’re lucky enough to work in a company like that, don’t forget to show your gratitude by adhering to some ground rules.
1. Make sure your pet is healthy
This means all vaccines are up to date, as well as flea, tick and heart worm treatments.
2. Your pet should not disturb anyone
Not everybody loves pets. Some are allergic whereas others simply might have phobias. Please, do not try to force others to like or pet your furry friend. You were given the gift of freedom to bring your pet to work– make sure you respect everyone else’s as well. Ideally, these people should not even notice your pet is around.
3. Make sure your dog is clean and well-groomed
Do we need to explain why a bad scent is troublesome? Plus, it speaks loads about you. Unlike cats, dog do not clean themselves. Make sure you clean your pet’s hair: both from your wardrobe as well as your chair, carpet etc. Grooming is also essential to dog health.
4. Check your insurance
Accidents happen. If your company didn’t make you sign a form, you are still obliged to cover for any related damages.
5. Make sure your pet is trained
Nothing’s worse than having someone bring in their dog and for the dog to spend the entire time barking or growling. People will come in and out of the office, so your dog cannot jump, bark or get too hyped. A leash is a must if you cannot make sure your dog stays at his or her spot. When you give a command, your dog must obey it instantly. As for cats, training is harder so you might want to consider bringing their little crate with you to work – but the one in which they have plenty of space.
6. The pet needs to be well socialized
If you get to bring a pet, others can too. Under no scenario can pets get into a fight or be terrified of one another. You need to make sure your pet does not bother others. Being too focused at work not to notice your dog is disturbing a colleague or their pet is not a valid excuse. If you are busy, keep your pet at a leash or within its crate. Your pet = your responsibility. Period.
7. Come prepared
You need to make sure you have everything your pet will need throughout the day. Besides food and water, your pet might need a favorite toy or its own bed. It’s an 8-hour day so your pet needs to be well accommodated. The idea is to make your pet happier and not more miserable than being stuck at home where at least he or she will be comfortable.
8. Pet-proof your office
Things like cables, cords and open trash bins can all be tempting and dangerous for pets so keep cords corralled and suspended. It also helps if cats and smaller dogs wear a bell on their collar so you can hear when they’re around. You don’t want your pet’s delicate paws to suffer from rolling office chairs… hint: it HURTS!!!
9. Cinderella, clean after your pet
As mentioned above, pet hair is a no, so do not forget a fur remover brush and in case you do, a pinch of scotch tape will help you remove the traces from your clothes. “Accidents” can happen inside the office so just be prepared to clean it up. Every day, you need to leave the office just like it was before you came and not create a mess in the meantime, obviously.
10. Pets must be supervised
Even the best-behaved pets get into trouble now and then when they are not looked after. If you have a busy day, either see if someone can babysit your pet at home or prepare a solution beforehand. Your colleagues have their own tasks and tending to your pet is not one of them. If someone offers to help, great, but don’t take this for granted and repay the favor in some way. Just make sure you avoid the scenario where your pet is wandering around, following other employees or even worse, begging for food while your colleagues are having lunch. You don’t want to be the person everyone ends up avoiding.
Don’t despair if things don’t go as planned
If the arrangement is not working out well, propose a few ideas to your company before they withdraw their pet friendly policy:
1. Designate pet-friendly days of the week
To accommodate non-pet-lovers, you can suggest designating certain days as pet-friendly days. Make a Pets at Work shared calendar. This should help to create a work environment that is pleasant for two and four-legged employees! This way, employees can take turns and the number of pets per day can be limited.
2. Establish pet-free zones
Your pet cannot disrupt meetings or wander the corridors. Set some ground rules for where pets can roam free, and where they should steer clear.
3. Create a pet committee
Set up a Rufferree team so employees can share any complaints or praise about the pet-friendly arrangement. The dedicated team can follow up with the dog’s owner should an issue arise and find the best solution for everyone.
The bottom line is, if your pet is not behaving well in your office surrounding, this will reflect poorly on you and you have a reputation to maintain. Remember, a reputation takes a lifetime to build and a second to destroy. Do the work to avoid this scenario – training is essential to a happy pet in general so just by being a pet owner, this is your job. Moreover, it is your job to ensure your pet won’t be a distraction, but a productivity booster. Show your company it made the right choice by allowing you to bring your pet to work. The bottom line is, your pet, more precisely his or her behavior and hygiene, speaks loads about YOU.
If you managed to go through the lockdown without one of these so-called “pets”, the question is what are you still waiting for? Another quarantine to make it “if not now – when”? Your pet will have its entire world revolve around you, so do your part by taking care of your furry angel the best you can. Cheers to all those companies that realized and are about to realize what is that magical effect of pets all about!