Dog owners are familiar with the sad groans our pets give us whenever it’s time to say goodbye and head for work. We often spend long hours away from our little buddies, but what if we got to bring man’s best friend with us to the office? Pets in the office are becoming an increasingly common occurrence, with companies such as Google adopting this new trend. We take a look at whether having our furry friends in the office is worth trying out.
There have been a number of studies conducted that prove that owning a pet is great for your health. It’s said that petting a cat not only relieves stress but also prevents anxiety related health issues. I suppose that explains the cliche of classic villains always carrying a cat around! According to a study published in the 2009 Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology cat owners had a reduced chance of dying from strokes or heart disease.
The workplace can be a stressful, tense environment for you and your fellow colleagues. This negatively impacts office morale, absenteeism and employee satisfaction. Studies have found that individuals who bring pets to work have less hormonal stress than those who don’t. Additionally, those who didn’t were noted to have increasing stress levels as the work day progressed.
Another benefit of having pets in the office is that it helps employees bond with each other. Pets provide a point of common interest, promoting interactions between people which aids communication and teamwork. I can just imagine bonding with Rachel from HR during lunch as Mindy Fluffer Nutter, my happy-go-lucky Labrador, has taken a liking to her energetic Chester Sugarfoot. Pets are a great vehicle for social interactions, be it chatting about their escapades or discussing their sad trips to the vet.
A post from The Balance Careers states that employees in pet friendly organisations tend to work longer hours and have fewer days absent from work. This is because they don’t need to rush home to feed the dog or let it out. Furthermore, they don't need to stay home to watch the pet if it’s not feeling well. Pet-friendly offices also reduce the costs incurred by employees who take their pets to doggie daycare centres or who hire dog walking services.
The downside to having pets in the office is that they may be too distracting for some. Often needing attention from their owners, this may negatively affect employee productivity.
A major drawback to office pets is allergies and phobias. People with allergies may react badly to the presence of pets in the office; pet allergies can be quite severe in some people. Other people may have deeply ingrained fears of certain animals; I know my partner can't even stand the sight of cats, while others aren’t too fond of dogs either.
Pets can also be a hazard in the office, and this may pose a danger to you, your customers and to themselves. They can cause damage to the office by having ‘accidents” on the carpet, bumping into office equipment or chewing and scratching furniture. Furthermore, their presence brings about the potential threat of them biting employees or customers, and this could result in potentially damaging legal issues.
Pets in the workplace have many benefits, but a lot has to be taken into consideration before implementing a pet-friendly policy at work. Steps need to be taken in order to ensure a healthy environment for both you and your pet.
Here are a few top tips to help create the perfect environment:
- Practice and maintain good hygiene. Pets, like humans, need to be well groomed and cleaned to avoid spreading illnesses. Additionally, make sure that pets are free from ticks and fleas
- Ensure that the work space is safe for pets to inhabit
- Ill-behaved pets may harm themselves and other people, so ensure that there's a policy to regulate such scenarios
- Introduce new pets slowly in order for them to acclimatise to the new environment
- It would be beneficial to have a section, preferably outside, where pets can freely play in a controlled environment
- Make sure that there are hand sanitising stations in your workplace so that employees can sanitise their hands after stroking or touching pets
Whether you have pets in the office or not, help remind staff to stick to healthy hygiene principals and keep everybody from passing on germs inadvertently. Download our hand hygiene posters.
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