For a while now, more and more pet amenities can be noticed in public spaces. You will find them in shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, and local shops. What’s more, there’s an increasing number of places dedicated to pet owners, such as dog hotels, and groomers, as well as pet-friendly cafes, schools, and kindergartens. This trend, which had its beginnings during the COVID-19 pandemic, didn’t go unnoticed by employers who started considering introducing workplace pet policies. In today’s article, we’ll explain what lies behind such decisions and discuss the pros and cons of a pet-friendly office. Read on.
Pros and cons of a pet-friendly office - table of contents:
Why do organizations become pet-friendly?
Allowing pets in the office is a way to support employees who don’t have anyone to take care of their pets at home. Pets require care during the day, such as being fed and taken for walks. However, it’s important to consider that pets, especially dogs, may experience separation anxiety and may disrupt the peace by whining or barking.
For employees who can’t work remotely or arrange pet care during work hours, a lack of a workplace pet policy can be a major problem. It may even prompt them to search for a new job with pet-related benefits. Therefore, organizations that don’t want to lose talented employees often decide to allow pets in the workplace.
The pros of a pet-friendly office
Let’s take a closer look at the pros of a pet-friendly workplace.
- Positive brand image
- Improved employee well-being
- Friendly atmosphere
For many employees who can’t leave their pets alone at home for a long time, being able to take them to work is a huge perk, and certainly has a positive impact on employer branding. Nowadays, when pet-friendly offices are not so popular yet, taking such an approach can become the hallmark of the company, attracting candidates and building its positive image (e.g. among business partners who are often also pet owners).
Having animals around has a positive effect on human well-being, especially when it comes to reducing stress and combating feelings of loneliness. Stroking a dog or a cat releases oxytocin, often referred to as the “happiness hormone,” which reduces anxiety and makes tasks easier to handle. Consequently, employees perform their duties more effectively in the presence of their furry companions.
The presence of four-legged companions can also create a friendlier atmosphere in the workplace and strengthen bonds between employees. This was confirmed by a study conducted by Purina in 2017, where as many as 45% of respondents admitted that having pets around improves the atmosphere and facilitates communication among colleagues. Stroking or playing with a cat or a dog can provoke spontaneous interactions between employees, fostering a sense of community and teamwork.
The cons of a pet-friendly office
Although at first glance, allowing pets in the workplace may seem like a great idea, especially considering the benefits described above, unfortunately, this solution also has a few drawbacks. The most important ones are presented below.
- Excessive noise
- Difficult working conditions
When implementing office policies, it’s important to think about each employee’s well-being. Remember that not all of them will be happy about the presence of a pet at work, particularly those who have allergies. Allergy sufferers can experience symptoms like sneezing, itchiness, and a runny nose, which can significantly impact their ability to perform their duties. It’s also important to note that exposure to allergens can lead to serious health issues requiring medical attention. Before introducing pets to the office, it is necessary to ensure that it won’t have a negative effect on employees’ health or find a mutually agreeable solution, such as creating separate zones.
Another drawback to consider is the noise that pets usually make. Of course, some animals are able to keep quiet and sleep the whole time their owner is working, but you can’t assume that they will always be so, especially when there are more pets in the office at the same time. Loud noise can make work, meetings, and phone calls difficult. Thus, having a pet in the office can lower employees’ productivity.
In pet-friendly offices, it’s necessary to maintain proper hygiene standards to avoid issues with odor or mess associated with the presence of animals. There is also a risk that animals may behave inappropriately, for example, interrupt work for play, which can reduce productivity. In extreme situations, it may even cause conflicts among employees if someone’s pet disrupts another person’s important task.
According to research by Pethelp, as many as 97% of employees would like their office to be pet-friendly (and only 32% of them described their workplace as pet-friendly). Although pet owners would appreciate having pet-friendly policies and amenities in the workplace, it’s important to remember that there are downsides to this strategy. When making such a decision, it’s crucial to consider both pet owners and non-pet-owners’ perspectives to find a solution that will keep everyone happy.