Ruff Day at the Office: Should You Allow Pets at Work?

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Having a ruff day at work? Your dog can help. Pets at work are a growing trend and can have positive effect on productivity and stress.

According to USA Today, a growing number of companies are allowing employees to bring their pets, typically dogs, into the workplace. And its not just companies related to the pet industry that are doing this (e.g., Purina, IAMS, Friskies).

Pets at Work, otherwise known as PAWs (get it?), may just be a way to differentiate employee culture, or to try to further blur the modern day distinctions between where you work and where you live. But some studies offer persuasive evidence that the presence of pets not only reduces workplace stress levels for the pet owners themselves, but for everyone at the office.

Fast Company reports that dogs in the workplace act as social catalysts and foster collaboration and contribute to a positive life-work balance. About 20 percent of American companies have adopted pet-friendly policies.

Should yours?

Related Article: Why Company Culture Matters More to Employee Than Pay

Pooch Poo-Pooers

It's not just animal haters that growl at the notion of pets at the office. As Fast Company also points out, even pet owners have reservations about bringing dogs into the office. Here's why:

  • Some people are allergic.
  • Some people don't like dogs, and some are afraid of dogs.
  • Even the most docile pet might bite or otherwise attack, especially when it is among people who don't know how to interact with dogs; this leaves the business open to possible lawsuits.
  • Not all house pets are as housebroken as owners would like you to think. And overly energetic dogs may amuse their owners, but can also easily cause distracting havoc.
  • Time spent playing with the office dogs is time spent not working; there are studies that dispute the creative and stress-lowering benefits of pets in the office and actually point to decreased productivity.

The Benefits of Pets at Work

With that said, there are some cases when permitting pets is not barking up the wrong tree.

  • Most, if not all, of your employees are either dog owners or appreciate the presence of dogs.
  • Guidelines are set and enforced if owner or pet violate expected rules of behavior.
  • You are in a business that is in some way connected to pets, pet care or pet food.
  • Your office environment is small, casual and relaxed.
  • A study cited by Lifehack indicates that 70 million Americans believe pets in the workplace reduce stress, while 46 million think pets in the workplace improve productivity. All those dog lovers can't be wrong.
  • You like dogs around, and you can do what you want because it's your business and you can run it the way you want. People who are uncomfortable working with dogs are probably uncomfortable working with you.

Just like before adopting a new puppy, give careful consideration to all the ramifications of allowing (or not allowing) pets at your business.

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