Going to the Dogs: Pros & Cons of a Pet-Friendly Culture
By Tricia Mirchandani
Picture this: you’re sitting at your desk, working away towards your 3pm deadline, all while your four-legged best friend sits by, encouraging, comforting, and cheering you on.
If you’re a dog-lover, this sounds like a dream.
“Sometimes, the best lap to rest on is a working lap.” – Hero, Bevi Puppy in Residence
But to make this dream a reality for you and your employees, you’ll need to consider all the pros and cons of a pet-friendly workplace.
Every dog-owner knows (and craves) that feeling of coming home at the end of the day to puppy love. The unconditional companionship of a dog has a unique ability to relieve stress, be it the sweet little nose on your lap, a furry head to pet, or just knowing that someone who loves you is nearby. Pets ‘on staff’ can reduce employee’s stress levels and make them feel more comfortable in the workplace.
Studies show that dogs increase bonds and collaboration in an office. Think of them as a natural conversation starter. Don’t know Jean too well even though she sits three seats away? Stop by to pet her pup and you’ll know her better in no time, leading to more conversation and collaboration.
Enter in the morning, exit in the evening and never get breath of fresh air in between. We humans do it all the time. But dogs don’t. While needing to get up from your desk in the middle of the day to walk the dog might seem like a productivity-crashing interruption, it actually brings about great healthy and creativity benefits. Walking is a great way to stay in shape and clear the mind at the same time. Ever get a great idea the minute you walk away from your computer? Count on that happening daily.
When employees can blend the line between work life and home life, often they feel a greater sense of balance. In this case, time spent missing their pups, worrying about them alone at home, or feeling guilty over being gone for so long can now be better spent.
The Sneezes and Phobias
Unfortunately, for every dog-lover, there is a cat-lover. There are also those who don’t like any furry friends, who are scared of the canine kind, or allergic. Creating a productive and welcoming environment for everyone means making sure that everyone feels comfortable. And sometimes, your furry best friend will make that tricky.
Furry, friendly, and loveable, yes. Clean and tidy, not always. The mess dogs leave in their wake starts with occasional shedding and only gets worse from there.
Dogs are loyal and loveable companions. But they can be quite needy. They also have a knack for directing all the attention in the room towards themselves. If the first fifteen minutes of every meeting are filled with puppy talk, you might have a problem.
For all the tension they relieve, they have the power to create a little too. Disagreements over boundaries, responsibilities or even pet-led conflicts can disrupt office congeniality.
Ultimately, your decision should take your employees and culture into account to determine whether the downsides of a pet-friendly workplace are worth the rewards. And, if you do decide to invite the dogs in, let this list of cons guide you in developing pet-friendly policies around things such as vaccination, training, and guidelines about proper pup behavior.