On average, that’s the number of furry coworkers sharing work space with Amazon employees at the famous Seattle headquarters during the work week.
Dogs “working” on the Amazon campus can expect treats from receptionists. If they need a break, they can romp around the doggie deck where there’s space to run and even sniff a fake fire hydrant.
While your office may not have quite as much room, it’s not a bad idea to consider the development of a pets in the office policy. A recent news story revealed that big companies across the U.S. recognize the benefits of having pets around and have adjusted company culture accordingly.
It’s widely recognized how pets help people with mental and health issues, but there are also big benefits for workplaces to include pets on the unofficial employee roster. Studies and work places cite benefits like higher levels of work satisfaction and recruitment competitiveness.
Curious about what your office would look like with pet coworkers? Here’s what we found about the major benefits of pets in the office:
People Adore Their Pets
A 2018 National Pet Owners survey by the American Pets Association found that 68% of American households have pets.
And since most pet owners consider their animals to be a part of the family, it makes sense that leaving them at home to head into work can cause stress. More pet owners prefer to bring their fur babies to work, while many non-pet owners surveyed said they would consider adopting a pet if they could bring it to the office on a regular basis.
While ADA policies may dictate access for certain service animals (not the same as emotional support animals), your company may want to consider an open pet policy for everyone.
Here’s a look at six of the major benefits of bringing pets to work:
1. Increase Employee Satisfaction and Retention
Since the presence of animals has been shown to reduce stress and increase overall well-being, having them around the office has obvious benefits.
For employers, the best part is keeping pet parents employed in the workplace longer. A 2016 study found that offices with pet-friendly policies led to higher employee retention. In fact, 83% of employees feel more loyal toward an employer who allows pets at work.
A Bone to Chew On: Most pet parents don’t like leaving their pets for the day, even if they have a capable sitter or advanced technology to keep an eye on their pet while away. If their pet is by their side, they know their pet’s needs are being met.
2. Tail Wags Can Raise Morale
What’s better than taking a work break to cuddle with an adorable fur baby? Allowing in-office pets to stay around keeps other people — including pet-loving customers — happy throughout the day. If morale is low, you can guarantee an automatic boost by allowing employees to bring their pets to work.
A Bone to Chew On: A Banfield Pet Hospital survey found that 88% of employers reported that having their pets at work was a morale booster.
3. Pets Reduce Stress and Improve Mental Health
Can you look at a dog or cat and frown? Probably not. Studies have proven repeatedly that animals have the ability to reduce stress in humans just by being around. Need to eliminate stress? Petting animals can reduce the stress hormone known as cortisol. Playing, laughing, and smiling all reduce blood pressure and stress levels, which comes easily when you have friendly pups or kittens in the office.
A Bone to Chew On: A 2013 American Heart Association study found that owning a pet — especially a dog — can potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. Improve Productivity Levels
When a dog needs a potty break, it gives workers a reason to get up and move their own bodies. A little walking break can boost creativity along with productivity. If you need to schedule a meeting, you can do it outdoors with fellow pooch parents. Can you imagine a more adorable walking meeting than one full of happy canines?
A Bone to Chew On: Having pets in the office forces workers to take more frequent, shorter breaks, which equals higher productivity levels thanks to the mental clarity that comes with scheduled break times.
5. Create Stronger Teams and Relationships
Studies show that human-animal interactions can help increase social skills.In 2014, a study published in Applied Developmental Science revealed those who take care of animals are more involved in their communities and have an increased likelihood of becoming leaders.
Additionally, pets in the office leads to enhanced communication and conversations with co-workers. This creates opportunities for employees in different departments to interact and bond over a love for pets.
A Bone to Chew On: Studies have also shown that teams that interact with pets while solving problems worked with a higher level of collaboration.
6. Snag Top Talent Along With Their Pets
A growing number of potential employees — approximately 65% based on Banfield Pet Hospitals’s study — inquire about pet policies during the hiring process.
More employees are looking for a better work/life balance and relaxed offices. By allowing pets in the office, it demonstrates a laid back atmosphere and commitment to employee satisfaction.
A Bone to Chew On: If your company also offers a dedicated play area and pet insurance, it’s an added perk that pet owners will love.
Developing a Pets in the Office Policy
If you're ready to allow Fido and Fluffy to come to work, you’ll want to have a firm policy in place. Before allowing pets in the office, consider a trial phase before creating a permanent pet policy.
For the best success, it’s important to have both leadership and employee buy-in.
Depending on your office structure, there may need to be a set weight allowance and animal type limits. Maybe your smaller office works well for just lap dogs. Just be clear in your written policy to avoid loophole pushers. Ferrets, for example, wouldn’t be a great pet to bring into the workplace.
A few points to keep in mind as you develop a policy:
- Behavior policies - Will you set a no bite tolerance? How about a “3 strikes you’re out” for too many messes or rowdy behavior?
- Create strong requirements - Outline must-haves like potty trained, friendly, a certain age, vaccinations, etc.
- Ask about allergies - Check with employees about any sort of allergens that may need to be considered prior to allowing pets in the office. If your office is small and a coworker is deathly allergic to cats, perhaps it’s best to set a dogs only policy.
- Keep it clean - Adding small air purifiers and regular vacuuming can help keep dander levels down when your office has a lot of pet traffic.
Pets in the Office: Let Your Employees Decide
Pets in the office aren’t for every workplace. The Wall Street trading floor, for example, would be a terrible place for dogs to hang out.
But if you’ve got a laidback office with dog-loving employees everywhere — and a calm space and potty break area — it could be the perfect fit.
More offices around the world are getting along just fine with pets in-house.
It also makes many pet parents happier, more productive, and more loyal to employers that allow them to bring their pets to the office. After all, they aren’t having to rush home to let out their pets on their lunch break or immediately after work.
With the proper buy-in and office policy, pets in the office can offer a happiness boost for employees and a boost to the company's bottom line. And, if you’re still not sure, there’s always the option to start with a “Bring Your Pet to Work Day” and see how it goes.
Do you allow pets in the office? Why or why not?