Pet-friendly workplaces are becoming increasingly common in today’s business culture. Google, Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, and many other large companies allow their employees to bring pets to work.
Pet-related businesses have even higher percentages of pet-friendly workplaces. While having pets in the office can be associated with many benefits, it can also open the door to a variety of interpersonal and legal issues. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of having pets in the workplace.
Pros of Pets in the Workplace
Having pets in the office has been shown to reduce stress and make employees feel more relaxed and comfortable. A pet-friendly workplace tends to increase employee satisfaction and to improve morale. Pets are also a point of common interest that can help to promote an atmosphere of teamwork and communication—they are a great vehicle for social interaction.
Allowing owners to bring their pets to work also provides a significant financial benefit—it eliminates the additional costs of doggie daycare or dog walking services for employees who work long hours or commute a significant distance from their home each day. Daycare or walking services can be quite costly, so this can be an excellent perk for a pet-owning employee.
Allowing pets in the office can boost a customer’s perception of the business. Most customers have a positive reaction when they are offered a chance to interact with an employee’s pet, and it can help them to relax and enjoy their visit to the business. Having pets in the office also tends to soften the company’s image and makes a business seem more progressive and forward thinking.
Allowing pets in the office can be a great recruiting tool for potential hires and for retaining employees long-term.
Employees of pet-friendly businesses tend to work longer hours and have fewer absences. They don’t have to worry about rushing home to let the dog out or staying home to watch a pet that may be feeling under the weather.
Pets in the Workplace: Cons
Pets can certainly be a distraction for both the owner and their neighboring coworkers. A dog will need to go outside for a few walks, and there could be noise issues from barking or whining. Pets also can draw small crowds of employees seeking entertainment, when those employees should be at their desks working.
Not every employee can be around animals due to allergies, which for some individuals can be quite severe. Others may have deeply ingrained phobias about being around certain types of animals. Employers may need to create pet-free zones in the office for those suffering from these conditions.
Pets can cause damage to office equipment by having occasional accidents on the carpet or chewing the furniture. While the office’s pet population may maintain a very high standard of good behavior, accidents do happen.
There are always potential legal and insurance issues related to scenarios where a dog could bite or trip an employee, customer, or service provider while on company property. It is important to discuss such issues with a lawyer.
Creating a Pet Policy
Allowing pets in the office generally makes it necessary for an employer to draft a comprehensive pet policy.
This should include consequences for misbehavior such as placing an animal on probation (or permanently banning them), specifying what types of pets are allowed, quantifying the frequency with which pets may visit the office, and clearly stating how animals are to be leashed or contained during their time in the building.