Should Your Office Be Pet Friendly?

photodune-13882835-office-worker-boss-dog-xs_2.jpgAlthough the pet friendly office isn’t quite mainstream yet, as more employees aim to achieve work-life balance and more employers hope to attract the best employees with interesting perks, it is growing increasingly common. If you’re considering implementing a pet friendly office, there is some research you need to do before charging ahead. Consider these issues and decide whether your office is ready to be pet friendly.

Check the Legalities (And Your Insurance!)

For some professions, pet friendly just won’t work. Food service and healthcare are just two examples of industries where pets and work simply don’t mix. Reaching out to your industry leaders about the legalities and logistics of offering a pet friendly workplace is step number one and, for many, the end of the road, in determining whether your office should go pet friendly.

Even if there’s no legal or industry standard, there’s still liability to consider. Having pets in the workplace is volatile. Even normally well-behaved pets can act out in new environments. With multiple pets, the possibility of bites or other injury is present. It's important to talk to your insurance company prior to implementing a pet friendly workplace to make sure you have the appropriate coverage for potential injury. Your office can only be pet friendly if allowed by your industry and your insurer.

Consider Your Options

It’s not all or nothing with pet friendly offices. In fact, allowing a pet free-for-all may lead to more distractions in the workday than productivity. Pet friendly offices should implement clear rules and regulations on bringing in Fluffy for the day. For example, ensuring that all pets are thoroughly vaccinated is a must. Some workplaces have a rotating schedule, allowing workers to bring their pet in on a specific day which reduces distractions and eliminates the chance for fights between pets. Some employees may prefer a pet-free workplace due to allergies. Talk to employees to understand their questions and concerns then consider whether a pet friendly office is really for you. Only if your workplace is in agreement and when all employees feel comfortable should you go ahead with your pet friendly workplace initiative. 

Make Accommodations

If you’re going to invite pets into the workplace, you need to have the right accommodations. Implementing a pet friendly office on the seventh floor of a building means employees will spend more time taking Fido for a pee break than actually getting work done. Stocking the break room with treats and toys can help pets feel more relaxed while assigning “pet free zones” can help employees avoid pets during conference calls and meetings with customers. Once you've decided to allow pets in the workplace, it's important to integrate them as seamlessly as possible so stay flexible and accommodating to strike the right balance for employees and pets. 

Pets can provide comfort and relaxation to employees during the workday but they can also cause a fair amount of stress. When businesses don’t consider the implications of having a pet friendly office, they set themselves up for failure. Creating a clear policy with reasonable accommodations and necessary insurance can help businesses go responsibly pet friendly.

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