Today an increasing number of workplaces are becoming pet-friendly: Brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Bissel Homecare and search giant Google, realize the benefits of a workplace environment that welcomes pets. Not just an aquarium in the lobby, but dogs and cats accompanying their people to work—an idea that is gaining traction from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups across the US.
Here we’ll discuss a few benefits of having a pet-friendly workplace, review some basic workplace guidelines (or “petiquette”), and offer steps you can take to promote the idea of a pet-friendly office to your employer.
The Benefits of a Pet-Friendly Office
Here are just a few ways that pets are good for workers’ physical and emotional health:
1. Stress reduction. Studies have shown that the simple act of petting a cat or dog can slow heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and alleviate symptoms of depression in humans.
2. Lower absenteeism. People who have pets report fewer sick visits to the doctor, and have better health outcomes and shorter recovery times when they do become injured or ill.
3. Improve health. People with pets tend to be less obese and to exercise more.
4. Increase production. Pets make people more productive in the office setting. Relaxed workers are better able to prioritize tasks, and they tend to make better decisions as compared to their stressed counterparts.
5. Boost morale. Pets are good for organizational culture. Even when the day seems to be falling butter-side-down, the unconditional love of a pet can make it easier to move ahead and complete the job at hand.
Of course, there are some best practices to follow when considering whether your pet is appropriate for a workplace setting.
1. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all checkups and immunizations.
2. Make sure your pet is treated to guard against fleas and ticks.
3. Make sure your pet is clean and presentable.
4. Assess whether your pet’s temperament is suitable for a pet-friendly office—pets have to be on their best behavior, not only with people, but with other animals.
5. Make sure there are provisions for your pet’s dietary needs and potty breaks.
Making Your Workplace Pet-Friendly
While not all employers are open to the idea of a pet-friendly workplace, there are some things you can do to promote the idea at your job. The Humane Society of the United States suggests the following steps to set the process in motion:
1. Gauge interest in the idea among your coworkers. The more support you have from workers, the more likely management is to listen.
2. Emphasize the benefits to the company as a whole—including factors like increased job satisfaction, reduced personal time away from work, and decreased stress on the job.
3. Take the initiative and volunteer to staff a committee to explore the impact of a pet-friendly work environment.
4. Ensure that the workplace can handle the presence of pets (for example, a courtyard where dogs could be walked). Also, outline places (such as restrooms) that would be off-limits to pets.
5. Suggest a trial run. Allow a few pets to visit the workplace and see how they—and your fellow workers—adapt.
We hope these tips will help you create a happy and productive work environment where you and your pet will thrive.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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