Are pets a distraction in the office?
Studies show that allowing pets to be in the office is a stress reliever for employers, but it also comes with liability for the company. Almost all of my employees have dogs and some have asked to work remotely part of the week because they don't have help with their pet during the day. I prefer to have my employees in the office for the majority of the week. Should I allow our space to be pet-friendly?
Being pet friendly is great if you have a way to set rules on where the dogs are and if you have a special area of them to play. How do you separate from customer meetings as some customers may not enjoy dogs (even the smell which may be another concern) and they could be a distraction during meetings. I work from home so I am with my dog. Some days he really wants to play and with no other dog around, I find myself playing instead of working. This means I work later into the evening and don't spend time with my husband, but he is the one playing with the dog all the time then! :-)
We have an office cat. It's my cat, and it's my home office, so the cat lives here and is very comfortable coming up to the office to visit. She's not much of a distraction and for the few of us who work in this office (and not remotely) it's nice to give her a chin rub or some treats now and then during the work day.
I think if it's the business owner's pet, it's one thing, if it's all the employees bringing in a pet, it could present a problem. Most people think dogs, not cats, when bringing in pets to the office (couldn't really see multiple cats who didn't already know each other sharing an office well!). Not all dogs are well behaved. Not all dogs get along with other dogs either. Dogs bark, they jump up on things, they need to be taken out to do their business, they could even bite someone (and you could be liable for it). Not saying it's totally not workable, but you'll have to think of all the things that could go wrong. I think most of the studies done showing pets in the office as stress relievers are with really well behaved pets and in very controlled environments.
What a great question! Pets at work are becoming increasingly popular, because they can help attract Millennial employees and as you note, improve workers' well being. This HuffPost article provides some good information and examples:
I think a controlled environment, where pets are welcome within certain parameters (perhaps a special pet area with a dedicated supervisor, just like onsite day care for kids), could work well ~ especially for a gaming company! Pets seem to go hand-in-glove with such an enterprise. I suggest you research how other businesses in similar fields have introduced pets into the workplace, and follow their lead as it applies to your business. Good luck!
I would strongly advise you not to allow pets in the office. Some pets could be well behaved and not a problem but if the policy is to allow then you are going to have serious problems.
Quite a few years ago one of our office workers a sales person asked if he could bring his dog with him. It was a small dog and we didn't expect it to be a problem. After about 3 weeks we had to tell him not to bring the dog anymore. It was totally distracting. Perhaps if you are able to have a separate pet area it might be ok but otherwise it is a really bad idea. It won't help productivity it will hurt it.
Definitely. The question then becomes, is it good or bad to be distracted every once in a while. In my experience, I get "laser focused" on tasks so I generally welcome a wet nose or cat purring to break me out of that. I find I'm more productive if I can stop every once in a while and let my mind wander. That said, it really depends on the specific situation. In my scenario, I'm referring to a rather sedate golden retriever vice a dog demanding attention continuously.
Pets in the office are a distraction, but a good distraction for the workplace if the employees who choose to bring their pets to work can follow the pet policy guidelines set by the company. When coming up with a pet policy that is best for the company, be sure to include employees in the discussion who are pet owners and non-pet owners to prevent biased guidelines. Common guidelines in a company's pet policy typically include:
1. Pets must be vaccinated.
2. Pets must be trained and well-behaved.
3. The office should have designated pet-free zones.
The Business.com team recently published an article that expands on these guidelines and includes additional guidelines that companies should follow if they decide to allow pets in the office: https://www.business.com/articles/office-pets-policy/
Most important is your employee's well-being and safety in the workplace. Pets brought to the office should have no history of aggression and be well socialized with both people and other animals. Your employees should have the good judgment to know whether their pet can meet the pet policy guidelines set above or not.
We allow pets in our office occasionally, and it's been a welcome productivity break and morale booster for the team. With that said, the pets (mostly dogs) that have come to work have been very well-trained and controlled. Clients have also seemed to enjoy seeing the pets when they visit our office. If you can come up with a pet policy that fits your company culture and trust your employees to follow it, I think it's a great idea.
I worked in a relatively small office where 3 family members brought their dogs to work on a regular basis. I found them INCREDIBLY distracting!
Here are just a few reasons why, based on my personal experience:
First, there's the noise: you can't control their whining and barking.
Then there's the smell. Not all dogs are bathed often enough. Or they have so much flatulence you can smell it down the hall. And let's not forget the "accidents" that are now in the carpet.
Next, how professional does it look when you're taking a meeting with a potential customer or vendor and a greyhound goes running down the hall? Or when you -- or your potential customer or vendor -- gets knocked down by a dog running down the hall?
And then there's the things you just can't unsee...like walking into your office to find one of the dogs humping your 3' tall stuffed M&M...which I no longer own, thank you very much!
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for people having pets...at home. But if you can't take care of them...don't get them. The office is a place for work. If you need your pet by your side constantly then you need to find a job you can work from home.
Obviously we dog owners will say YES and the others will say NO. It will boost morale, AND you will be surprised how many customers will like it also. The big drawback is with those customers who are really afraid - not good. I have Boerboels that weigh 145, 173 and 210 and at least one has come to work with me. There's excitement when you first bring them in, but after that everybody calms down and goes about their business.
Excellent question, Thomas.
I would say that it would depend heavily on three things - the industry in question, the size of the office, and its layout. Obviously it wouldn't be a good idea to have pets in a restaurant, as that could cost you dearly when it comes to health and safety inspections. For pretty much everything else, though, I'd say that it would depend on the culture.
One of the game companies that I have done work with in the past had two dogs and a cat in the office. According to everyone who worked there, the presence of the animals significantly reduced the overall stress levels, and actually inspired an idea or two in the process.
Even if they aren't allowed past a specific area, their presence would certainly allow for a boost to the morale of your employees.
Let me tell you a story about my dog at work. No exaggeration, just the facts.
My Lhasa Apso named Whiskey began coming to work with me one morning after gaining permission from the owner of the company in which I was serving as an interim CEO. Whiskey was a tremendously lovable little critter, and the small office suited him well. There were only 3 other office people besides me in regular attendance.
The reason I wanted Whiskey near me at work is because of a separation anxiety concern he was troubled with. If left alone for too long, he would become loud and destructive, so bringing him to work solved that issue.
That is, until the day the UPS driver startled him so much that he pissed on the floor, jumped up on the couch in the front entry and dropped a turd right in the center off the cushion. I;m not talking cigar style turd, but the melted milk shake variety.
I cost me two hundred dollars to have the carpet and couch cleaned, and Whiskey got to stay at home after ward.
I would agree that if you will definitely and seriously consider this option that you plan for the initial capital to make it a success (for all). I do see a lot of advantages to having this as, just like parents if the kids or pets are with you the need to leave or take off may be limited. I also believe that it can help to relieve the stress level and even boost morale. On the other side it can be distracting especially for those afraid of animals. So an option would be, as also mentioned to build out a separate section or supervised area where the pet parents can drop off and visit their pets at breaks, during lunch in addition to having hours where the facility can accommodate those that want them to work later.
I think that you should consider the investment in the capital, but do your research first (i.e. how many employees own dogs and would they utilize this for a minimal fee that can be taken directly out of their check, what policy will you implement) to see if its right for your and your company. You will probably see a positive return in your employee morale and recruiting new hires due to this option.
If you did not already know, there is also an annual event called "TAKE YOUR DOG TO WORK DAY" that you can celebrate when you want the pets to work with their pet parents in the office vs. the attached daycare or to test out the option. Maybe you can make it every other Friday. Our office celebrates this annual event and we do try our best to integrate kid and pet parents into our companies work life balance as we feasibly can. As a matter of fact our office celebrated Take your dog to work day today 6/24/2016. Here are more articles on the event and the idea of taking your dog to work.
As always for liability purposes ensure that you receive proper counseling.
It depends on the interior space & setup of the office. An open concept space or an office with a lot of activity & movement is not a good situation. There is liability, distraction, allergies......I would say no to pets at the office.
I find pets in the workplace, especially dogs, to be an enormous distraction, not only to workers but to company guests. There's always the chance that a co-worker (or guest) may be deathly afraid of the animal, or allergic. And then there's the possibility of an "accident" in someone's office or in a hallway. Or bringing unwanted pests, such as fleas, into the work environment. Love your pooch, but leave him or her at home!
Agree completely with Jeff Adams, thought he omitted one negative possibility - dog bites another employee and employee then sues dog owner and the company.
I am a dog owner but I am also of the school: there is a time and a place for everything. If there is real need for a dog at work - person's disability - then that is another story. But the idea that a dog will be a stress reliever at work is just another attempt at Political Correctness. STOP
Pets are not a match for a professional office business. If the business is connected by product or service to pet's than yes. I have been attached in office businesses and it was not fun.
How would you answer the question: "Are children a distraction in the office?"
The same RULE for children accompanying their parents to work applies to people bringing their pets to work. Parents have to find a Daycare Center or a Nanny to take care of their children whilst they go to work. My advice is to find a daycare center or a Nanny to take care of your pet whilst you go to work. Alternatively, you start a Daycare Center for Pets or provide a Nanny Service for Pets. In that way, you will have all the time that you need to be with your pet and at the same time, make some money by running your own business. We have to drawn the line somewhere - business is business, and playing "dollhouse" is playing dollhouse. .
Mr Thomas, my perspective is that it is not advisable to have pets at the workplace. Customers coming to your office may also not like it as the dogs may bark when seeing strangers and may be even bite. The workplace needs to be dignified, and no distractions. I also see that some employees are asking for working remotely. So where is the loyalty to the company and their job? This gives a strong indication about where their priorities are. So you cant expect productivity having such employees even a day with you as their concentration is elsewhere. Florence MacDonald
1: it depends on the pet and the office vibe.
2: consider carefully how they would interface with staff, clients, each other.
3: consider allowing only those pets who have graduated from school(obedience, therapy animal or similar)
4: establish rules and requirements as well as consequences if violated and be sure your liability policy covers it.
5 I have pets in my home office, who sleep most of the day, and love it. But it is not for everyone.
pets are our best friends, but I sustain that in the office they can create confusion mainly for people don't match too much with them.... tension may growth undoubtedly....
Yes, I used to bring my lab to work and yes he took up a lot of time. He was definitely a distraction in our office.