A Short Guide to the Pros and Cons of Pets in the Office

Kiley Salmons
September 12, 2018

Having a pet-friendly office is a growing trend in the modern workforce. Who doesn’t love walking into work and being greeted by a fluffy friend? Whether office managers are choosing to allow pets to help with workplace morale or want to make it more convenient for pet-owning employees, there are positives and negatives to allowing furry friends into the office.

While we aren’t here to discuss if dogs or cats make the better pet companion, here are some of the pros and cons of allowing pets in the workplace.

Pros of Having Pets In The Office:

1. Creating a Positive Work Morale

It’s no wonder why pets increase office morale — just think of the feeling you get when a puppy runs up to your desk or takes a nap at your feet. Wagging tails around the office make most people happy, creating not only smiles but increased contentment in the workplace. And catching a glimpse of a wagging tail or giving a pup a treat can also help manage stress levels.

2. Increasing Exercise and Activity

Pets need walks and sometimes playful interaction. As such, having pets in the office can help increase employees’ overall exercise and activity. So, whether they take their dog out for a few walks a day or get on the floor to play and throw a ball, your employees are up and moving — and improving their health. Having their pet with them can also help their wallet, as dog walking services or doggy daycare can add up. This is a huge benefit to employees, who will save time, money, and will feel a lot better by not having to leave their pets at home.

3. Improving Productivity and Collaboration

Pets bring people together; not only are they conversations starters, they also encourage people to have healthy, productive social interaction. Some studies show that allowing pets in the office can actually increase the bottom line as it can encourages employees to take small breaks to say hello or take their buddies out to do their business. These small activities can boost mental resources and increase concentration.

4. Polishing the Company Image

As more and more companies switch to a pet-friendly office policy, many potential employees are taking that into account when choosing where they want to work. Even if candidates themselves don’t own a pet, the advantages and laid-back attitude are still apparent. And allowing pets in the office can even change outsider perceptions of your company and business. Whether it’s clients, investors, or other visitors, your company will generally come off as more forward-thinking and open-minded if there are pets roaming around the halls.

Cons Of Having Pets In The Office:

1. Distractions

Although taking a quick break in your day to pet a friendly pooch or snuggle with a happy feline isn’t a bad thing, over time it could be that workplace pets could become a distraction to both owners and coworkers. Also, sometimes pets get overly excited and bark or want to play. This can happen to even the best-behaved dogs and can certainly be a distraction to employees trying to get work done.

2. Allergies or Phobias

Pet allergies, or even a phobia of certain animals, are something that should be taken very seriously. Unfortunately, not everyone can be around animals. If any employee objects to allowing pets in the office, their voice should be heard and precautionary measures taken as, sadly, sometimes those allergies can be severe. Even in workplaces where no one is allergic, the office should be cleaned more often to account for pet hair and dander.

3. Liability

Having pets in the office definitely increases liability as there are always potential legal and insurance issues when pets are around. If Bobby brings his dog Scruffy into work, for example, and Scruffy bites Bobby’s coworker Billy, we have a problem. Though it is rare, it is not unheard of for a perfectly friendly dog to bite if provoked or confused. As there are definite legal repercussions possible with animals in the workplace, it is important to talk to your lawyer and your insurance agent before deciding if pets in the office will work for you.

4. Damages

Animals aren’t always well behaved. With pets in the office, there is always a possibility of damaged items, whether that's company property or an employee’s personal belongings. Accidents do happen even if you are working to maintain a high standard of good doggie behavior. So it is important to accept the reality that some accidents or damages could come with the territory of allowing pets in an office.

Tips For Creating An Office Pet Policy

So your office has decided to take the plunge and become pet-friendly—yippee!! Now what do you do? It is important to establish a clear pet policy from the beginning so that all employees understand the rules and their responsibilities. It might also be a good idea to set up a Pet Committee so these responsibilities do not all fall on the office manager’s shoulders alone. Don’t wait until pets have been around for a while, communicate early and make sure everyone is on the same page. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Pet-Free Zones: It is important to clearly mark pet-free zones, such as conference rooms and eating areas, as well as perform an in-depth pet proofing of wires and exposed electronics. It could also mean your office has ‘Pet-Free Days’ so not every day includes Fido or Whiskers as a break to the non-pet owners.
  • Pet Condition: It should also be understood that pets who come to work maintain a high level of grooming, up to date vaccinations, and good hygiene — no matter how much they hate taking a bath. Appropriate behavior should be spelled out as well with stipulations regarding leashes, bedding, etc.
  • Pet Parameters: Pups and cats may be the most popular kinds of pets to have in the office, but there may be other pets that employees want to bring in; everything from pythons to scorpions have appeared on lists of employee pets. However, not everyone might feel comfortable or safe with certain types of pets, so you will need a fair and just policy that clearly spells out ahead of time whether or not all pets are welcome.

There are many advantages to allowing pets in the office, but it certainly does not come without its fair share of challenges and risks. Allowing pets in the office is becoming increasingly popular so if you do decide a pet-friendly office culture is right for your company, throw your employees a bone and create a comprehensive pet policy. Remember, even though it’s often ‘impawsible’ to say no to cute pets, do what you can to avoid any ‘cat-astrophe’.

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