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September 2018

The results are in: should you bring your pets to the office?

Written by Nicole Horne
Cleanliness and Hygiene

Over the past weeks there has been a lot of debate around whether pets should be allowed in the office and whether it’s a good idea or not to have pets in the workplace.

To summarise, the following were seen as points for having pets in the office:

  • Pets reduce stress levels and improve colleagues’ sense of well-being
  • Pets in the office allow a greater level of collaboration amongst employees, and thus also lead to an improved morale in the workplace
  • Increased productivity levels have been reported, as well as the ability to work longer hours since colleagues don’t have to rush home to their pets
  • Having office pets allows for more frequent breaks that in turn lead to better concentration levels
  • Employee retention increased as more than half of employees say they would be more likely to remain with a company if it had a pet-friendly policy. Having this policy in place also gives companies a competitive edge in attracting talent

On the opposite side of the fence, the below points were seen as reasons against pets coming to the office:

  • Some people experience allergic reactions in the presence of pets. Pets are also a trigger for asthma, which can also lead to employee absenteeism and in turn, a less productive workforce (see the how pets can be both for and against productivity in both cases?)
  • Risk of injury: if a pet is overly excited or frightened it might lead to accidents in the workplace, for which the company may be held liable.
  • Hygiene implications: if your pet has an ‘accident’ this poses a hygiene risk in the office
  • Pets in the office could be a distraction, especially if they bark, or if coworkers want to play with them (especially puppies - who can resist them?!) 🐶
  • Pet health is another factor to consider: their need for exercise and bathroom breaks.

Yay or Nay for office pets?

On a poll we ran regarding office pets, 56% of people voted yay for pets in the office, while 44% voted against bringing pets to the workplace.

If you are considering bringing pets to the office, it is best to put in place an office pet policy to ensure that the best interests of both colleagues and pets are considered, and that everyone is kept healthy and happy.

The following ‘rules’ should be put in place for colleagues who wish to bring their pets to the office:

A designated ‘safe’ space should be available for office pets: a space where pets can roam around, play and have bathroom breaks. An outdoor area with shelter, or perhaps an indoor / outdoor space with a patio and garden could work well.  A “kindergarten for dogs” comes to mind and this makes me chuckle, as the idea is certainly entertaining - and a good one in my opinion!

Having a dedicated pet-safe area would ensure pets have a separate space whilst still being near their owners. This would also allow colleagues to take breaks from their desks, get some fresh air and spend some quality time with their furkids without being a distraction in the office, or posing health and hygiene risks inside the office.

Another consideration would be to ensure your pet is well socialised and gets along with others to prevent any negative reactions, as well as ensure that your pet’s inoculations are up to date.

In terms of pets and office hygiene - the following hygiene considerations would also assist in ensuring a healthy office environment:

  • Place hand hygiene stations in the office and around doggy-designated areas and remember to sanitise (or wash) your hands after coming into contact with your pet to prevent cross contamination.
  • Antibacterial fogging helps to eliminate disease-causing bacteria and ensures a clean space around the areas that pets frequent (be sure to this when pets are not present).
  • No one likes the odour of eu du pooch, so to combat this, Initial’s Premium Scenting units will ensure a pleasant smelling office. Did you know smell plays an important role in employee confidence and performance levels?

If the above boxes are checked, having pets in the office would appeal to both the yay and nay crowds.

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Nicole Horne

Nicole Horne

Nicole is a Digital Marketing Executive at Rentokil Initial Hygiene in Johannesburg. A self-proclaimed germaphobe, her love for hygienic environments and curiosity of all things “beneath the surface” fuels her enthusiasm for writing about the impact of germs in the workplace. She is passionate about creating awareness and sharing her knowledge on the impact of good hygiene practices. Follow Nicole on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates on the the good, the bad and the germy.

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