Why Pets Should Be Allowed at Your Workplace

15 Apr 2019

Pet-friendly workplaces are becoming increasingly common, following the example set by the likes of Google, Etsy, and Amazon. Whether it’s allowing employees to bring their pooches into work, or having a designated office furry friend, our love for animals can be wholly beneficial to our productivity. Plus, it is a relatively low-cost perk for a company that can make a big difference to its employees!

As it’s National Pet Month, let’s take a look at some aspects to consider before letting your office go wild.

The benefits: from mental health to productivity

According to MentalHealth.Org, 64 per cent of people with mental health problems are currently in employment. This means that nearly one in seven employed people are dealing with mental health problems. It is clear that mental health support in the workplace is vital, but did you know that having better support for these conditions can save UK businesses up to £8 billion each year?

With this in mind, allowing pets in the workplace is a cost-effective and easy way to introduce a little anxiety and stress reduction in the office. Studies have shown that pets are great for:

• Motivation
• Relaxation
• Socialisation

Pets as motivators at work

Allowing pets at work is a fantastic motivator for staff. Not only does it boost morale, but it can also encourage employees to work a little longer — with their pet with them, they don’t have to worry about racing home!

Plus, according to a report by Lifehack, allowing dogs in an office space has been shown to boost productivity. The report claimed that 46 million Americans felt a pet-friendly workplace made for a more productive environment for them.

Why not have designated ‘pet-breaks’ where employees can get up, stretch, rest their eyes from screens for a few minutes, and take some time to unwind with a little cat-cuddling or dog-walking?

Pets for relaxation at work

For workers with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, pets can provide a sensory integration activity that helps with calming and relaxation.

In general, pets are found to be expert stress-relievers, with 29 per cent of people finding office cats reduced their stress levels, and 21 per cent saying the same for office dogs. On top of this, 21 per cent found cats made the office environment more friendly, with 18 per cent agreeing the same with dogs.

Pets for socialisation at work

Outside of office drinks, socialisation can be difficult in the workplace, but it is vital to break down barriers between employees to ensure a creative, communicative environment. One study showed how the presence of an office dog within a group of office workers resulted in a ‘more cooperative, comfortable, friendly, active, enthusiastic, and attentive’ group.

Brand image

Office pets aren’t just a benefit to the workforce — they can also help with the company’s image as a whole. It has been found that, from a customer point of view, seeing an employee’s pet and having the chance to interact with it themselves makes for a more enjoyable visit. Plus, the presence of animals at a business makes the firm look more progressive to a customer.

Animal-ready offices

Before implementing a pet-friendly scheme into the workplace, be sure to set the groundwork. Some things to consider include:

• Which pets are allowed — you need to outline which animals are covered by the office’s definition of ‘pet-friendly’. Remember, not everyone has furry babies; some of them have feathered or scaly varieties! If you’re not fond of the idea of someone coming in with their beloved pet python, it’s best to set ground rules.
• Areas of the office to be pet-free — keep in mind some workers might not be comfortable around animals, or may indeed have allergies. Entrepreneur recommends designating a pet-free area for these workers.
• Behaviour expectations — for both the pets and the employees! You need to make sure everyone knows what is expected in terms of handling their pets and any bannable behaviours for unruly pets. Plus, lay the boundaries down for your employees to ensure no one is spending a little too much of the day petting dogs.

Sources

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/pets-and-mental-health
https://www.thebalancecareers.com/pros-and-cons-of-bringing-your-pet-to-work-125561
https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/pets-and-productivity-does-having-an-animal-in-the-office-make-you-a-better-worker.html
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237982
https://www.msn.com/en-gb/lifestyle/family-relationships/companies-that-let-you-bring-your-pets-to-work/ss-BBzf28b#image=2
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-mental-health-work
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08927936.2017.1270595

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