We, at the CRAMS office, never have a day without a four-legged friend lounging around our feet and we are great advocates of pets at work! Check out a picture of our four legged friends here.
Key questions to determine if your workplace is pet-friendly
Now unfortunately, there are many workplaces which would be made incredibly dangerous by having a furry friend nearby. To consider introducing pets to the office you first need to look at the following factors:
- Is the environment enclosed enough for a pet to be safe and away from members of the public, traffic or other nearby hazards such as livestock etc.?
- Are you using COSHH products during the working day which could pose risks to a pet via fumes or ingestion and can you adequately control the processes to make it safe for your furry friends?
- Is there a safe place nearby for your pet to sleep, drink, eat and toilet – outdoor for dogs, maybe a quiet place for a litter tray for cats.
- Will the pet travel happily or will the morning commute cause them unnecessary stress?
- Does the pet like other people or will they be upset or stressed by the presence of strangers?
- Is their temperament suitable?Are they likely to bite/attack strangers or clients – can you keep them away from this risk?
- Do they chew?If so, can they be kept safe from electrical equipment or other materials which could cause harm?
- Does anyone have allergies to pet hair?
- Could pets contaminate products? (e.g. food/chemical handling or production)
- Would pets cause risks by knocking things over?
- Is there a chance the pet could become aggressive?
Ready for a pet-friendly workplace?
If you’ve considered all the above and still feel you’re working somewhere well suited for pets, congratulations, you’re about to reap the benefits!
It’s proven that having pets in the workplace reduces stress and creates a more relaxed workforce, it has even been shown to improve staff turnover rates and general mental wellbeing. Customers who visit your office and meet your office pet will likely find their visit more memorable, increasing the chance of repeat custom! It is even said your business is thought to look more progressive and forward thinking.
If your pet is the office pet, even better! Staff who work with their pets tend to work longer hours – they don’t have to rush home, meaning they are more dedicated to their job. Let’s face it, would you give up a job that welcomes Rover for one that doesn’t?
Don’t forget to consider the negatives
Unfortunately, there can be disadvantages too, and these are often the reasons why pet-friendly spaces often never trial actually having pets in the office.
Pets can be a distraction – especially if you have an animal that needs and seeks attention, or even if you don’t, but you have employees who become more interested in the animals than their work. For example, having a puppy in an unenclosed area would be very difficult and your staff would spend more time following the puppy around the office, removing the stationary and wires from their mouth than actually working. I have seen puppies in an office environment almost perfectly integrated, however, I’ve only ever seen this working when the puppy has a pen or crate for some safe downtime between play breaks.
It is also worth mentioning that you need to be ensure your work place insurance isn’t invalidated by having your pet there, as well as the pet’s owner having valid insurance to cover them should a pet bites someone.
So you’ve addressed all the questions and concerns I’ve outlined above. Now it’s time to hold a team meeting to find out who would like to bring their pet in or if anyone has any strong objections to having a pet around. Arrange a trial week and decide who can bring their pet and when, arrange play dates for pets that haven’t met before to ensure they get on rather than throwing them in the office and hoping for the best.
Remember, employees need to have time in their working day to look after their pet for toilet breaks and walk commitments – this may mean being at work for longer hours to make up the time spent looking after their pet.
If your trial week goes well, you just might be ready to join the pet-friendly workplace club. If not, you can always pick up a life-like statue to keep your team smiling!