Businesses often evaluate different methods of improving employee productivity and morale. Some suggestions have been to increase vacation time, encourage better work/life balance, and to allow employees to work from home where possible. One method that is becoming more popular is allowing staff to bring their pets to work. There are a number of benefits to this approach.
Sharing the workday with pets has a positive effect on staff morale. Pet parents are often anxious about leaving their four-legged companion at home all day, so the option to bring their pet with them lowers their stress levels. Workers are in less of a rush to leave at the end of the day because they don't have to worry about letting their dog out for a toilet break or being late for doggie daycare pickup.
The presence of a pet in a workplace has many other beneficial outcomes. A Virginia Commonwealth University study found that those who brought their pet dog to work with them were more satisfied with their job and viewed their employer in a very positive light. Pets can also improve the relationship between work colleagues as they are a catalyst for conversation and the formation of stronger friendships based on a common love of pets.
It has been said that "sitting is the new smoking," and being seated at a desk for hours at a time has been linked with adverse effects on people's health. If a worker has to take their dog out for a regular toilet break, these effects can be reduced, and the short break from the workplace can clear their mind and allow them to feel refreshed when they return to their desk. Similarly, walking the dog during lunch relieves stress and provides some exercise for both pet and handler.
Unless you work in a veterinary practice or other pet -related business that has the facilities for looking after pets, there are inevitably drawbacks to having pets at work.
Some people are allergic to pet hair, and some are afraid of dogs. The presence of pets can therefore contribute to some degree of hostility in the workplace. Pets with poor manners can also make office life challenging. Workers will need to keep their snacks out of reach from dogs that may sneak a taste, and there may be cleaning up to do if a pet isn't well toilet-trained or if they shed excess hair. There is also the issue of inter-pet relationships. If pets don't get on well, it can be disruptive but equally so if the happy games they play are rough and energetic. The last thing an employer wants is the equivalent of a doggie daycare center in the workplace.
While having pets at work offers many benefits to employees, it needs to be carefully managed to prevent any reduction in productivity or adverse effects on other staff members. It may be best to limit pets to those days when the workload is light, as well as the number and type of pets that are welcome in the office at any given time.