Workplaces are evolving and what might have been unacceptable ten or twenty years ago is now becoming the new norm. Take, for example, working from home, flexible working hours, and open-plan workspaces. Pet-friendly workplaces are also one of the newer concepts becoming increasingly popular today. Google, AirBnb and Ben & Jerry’s are just some of the forward-thinking companies offering pet-friendly workspaces to their employees. Why would a company want to offer a pet-friendly workplace to its employees?
Read on to find out the advantages and disadvantages.
One of the reasons some businesses choose to allow pets in the workplace is that it creates a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Workspaces are becoming increasingly relaxed as businesses find new ways to retain employees through implementing strategies that allow a better work-life balance. While just a few decades ago offices were considered corporate-only workspaces for independent working and cubicle desk spaces; nowadays open-plan offices, comfortable seating, and remote working are favored widely. When employers allow pets in the workplace, it means pet-owner employees forgo expensive dog-walkers or driving home every lunchtime and instead enjoy the company of their pet throughout the day. Secondly, pets can offer employees the distraction they might need during a break from a stressful day. Playing with a dog in a work break or taking a pet for a walk during a lunch hour can help to take an employee’s mind off a stressful task. A study conducted by the University of Lincoln found that pets improved job satisfaction by 22%, and also found that there was an increase in work engagement.
Although pet-friendly offices are generally favored by most companies, there are some drawbacks. Firstly, not all people are animal lovers. For employees with allergies, pets in the office can create concerns for health and safety in the workplace, and ignoring these concerns could cause disagreements amongst employees. Secondly, not all pets have reliable temperaments, and a misbehaved dog can become distracting for workers around the workplace, particularly if there is more than one pet present at one time. In client-facing workplaces, poorly behaved pets can also look bad for business if the workplace becomes noisy, and there is always a risk that a client or customer might also have an allergy or even a phobia.
Lastly, some managers may have concerns that pets can be distracting in the office, particularly if they are excitable or playful in nature and could, therefore, affect worker productivity.
There are certainly more benefits to allowing pets in the workplace than there are drawbacks, not least because it has proven to improve the happiness of employees. Implementing new policies within a workplace to encourage pets, but to also have regulations with regards to behavior, customer meetings, and appropriate hygiene is a great way to ensure that minimal issues occur. Before implementing a pet-friendly policy, workspaces should be considerate of employees in the workspace with phobias or allergies to ensure minimal disruption.