Modern day companies, especially the top tech companies in Silicon Valley, have been hard at work trying to make employees more comfortable to boost productivity, profits and revenue. Many companies look up to businesses like Facebook and Google who have found some pretty creative ways to make their employees feel more comfortable on the clock. Airbnb is one such company that gives their employees around $2,000 every year for traveling, three organic meals a day and a pet-friendly office. Such employee perks have both advantages and disadvantages, and it’s crucial for companies to weigh out these pros and cons before making a decision that could expose their employees to potential harm. Bringing pets to work can possibly be dangerous, so you’ll need to have a specific company policy that reduces the risks.
More Companies Becoming Pet-Friendly
A large number of companies have decided to allow employees to bring their dogs to work with them, and the idea seems to be working well for most companies. Amazon, the online retailer giant, allows hundreds of dogs to run free around their campus. They even have a small dog park, dog water fountains and free dog treats at the reception desk.
Salesforce, a cloud-based software company located in San Francisco, has developed its own dog-friendly policies called Puppyforce. This official policy allows employees to book a special dog-friendly room that comes equipped with dog beds, water bowls, cleaning materials, cages and soundproof walls to avoid disturbing other employees. This special room only has enough space to accommodate six employees and their pets, so employees have to book the room in advance. This policy keeps employees happy while also preventing the pets from disturbing other employees.
Google is another company with canine-friendly policies. Google has its dog-friendly policies listed in the company’s code of conduct. The company’s love of dogs is so extreme that the main office has its own dog-themed café and exclusive club of dog-loving employees called the “Dooglers”. Dogs who visit the office often can even receive their own exclusive badge.
Benefits of Bringing Pets to Work
With all these giant corporations competing to formulate the most dog-friendly policies for their employees, many are wondering why so many businesses are even considering such a seemingly radical idea. Researchers have found that pets can be the perfect temporary distraction and mental break to boost an employee’s productivity. Pets create a calmer environment by lowering stress levels, triggering teammate camaraderie and increasing office communication.
A recent research study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information about dogs in the workplace argues that a dog’s presence has measurable physiological implications that prove stress levels are reduced. In some cases, a person’s stress level can be even more effectively reduced with their dog compared to having a family member or friend with them.
Other studies have indicated that pets help enhance an employee’s performance and increases the amount of employee interactions. It’s important to note that most studies regarding dog and human interactions involved laboratory studies and were not conducted in an actual office setting.
There are unique factors that contribute to the potential downfalls of allowing pets into your workplace. The most obvious obstacle of providing this perk to employees is the additional costs associated with providing pet-friendly areas. It’s crucial that you pet-proof areas where dogs are likely to frequent, and you may incur additional costs for maintenance throughout the year.
Another extremely important factor to consider is the potential liability issues associated with animals in the workplace. Employee and pet safety should be a primary concern. Animals have the tendency to act out or become aggressive unexpectedly, and the animal itself can’t really be held accountable when they do injure someone or damage property. Dog bites can cause a wide range of injuries ranging from puncture wounds to broken bones, scarring, amputations and even death in extreme cases. You must have both a workplace policy and evaluation method in place that prevents aggressive and dangerous animals from being permitted.
It’s also important to consider that around 15 to 30 percent of people with allergies will react to dog hair even if the dog isn’t physically present. Some pets may also be carrying diseases that can be transferred to human employees through indirect or direct contact. Keeping your workplace safe will need to be an ongoing concern for a company allowing dogs in the office.
In addition to monitoring allergic reactions and dog temperament, you’ll need to consider the fact that many people are simply not comfortable being around dogs. Some individuals suffer from severe phobias that could elicit an anxiety attack upon seeing a dog in the office, and some people may come from a culture that objects to pets in the office.
Tips for Successful Pro-Pet Policies
After carefully considering both the advantages and disadvantages of allowing dogs into the workplace, many of today’s top companies are choosing to create pet-friendly policies that will allow workers to bring their pets with them occasionally. Pet-friendly policies can lower work-related stress, increase productivity and contribute to a more relaxed office atmosphere. Plus, employees won’t have to worry about pets left at home.
This new workplace trend may have some great benefits, but it’s still important to consider the dangers of injuries arising from dog bites. Although Google and other companies appear to have successfully integrated dogs into their workplace, more research needs to be done before determining the success or failure of such a policy. There are still many unanswered questions about the long-term impacts of pro-pet policies, although only time will tell if they can be successfully implemented across workplace.
If you are an employer and decide to test out the idea in your office, you should consult with your employees beforehand and craft a clearly-defined policy with their feedback and concerns in mind. Certain breeds of dogs known for aggressive behavior, for example, may be exempted from the policy. Dogs that bark often could be barred. A “pet restroom” area outside should be set up so dogs don’t mess up the office, while cat-owners should bring their own litter boxes.