GOING TO THE DOGS
Fido may soon be wandering in your workspace, fetching your files, and snatching your co-workers’ snacks, as more and more workplaces allow dogs in the office during business hours.
Small companies — typically in a creative line of work, such as technology, advertising or design — tend to have more dog-friendly workplaces, according to Pet Sitters International, the global leader in the pet-sitting industry. But now businesses from a variety of fields are opening their doors to animals to promote a flexible work environment and improve employee satisfaction.
In fact, one in five companies now allow pets in the workplace, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), a trade group in Greenwich, Conn. While some might think dogs in the office would diminish productivity, dog-friendly businesses have found just the opposite.
Companies that permit pets have lower absenteeism rates and employees who are more willing to work overtime, according to APPMA. In addition, allowing dogs in the office increases camaraderie among employees, improves staff morale and results in happier employees, all of which can translate into enhanced job performance, says the American Humane Association, an organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals and children.
“Everyone enjoys having the dogs around,” says Kristin Rogers, retail marketing manager of the Chesterland, Ohio, location of Invisible Fence® Brand & JGB Distributing Inc., which allows employees to bring dogs to work. “It’s great to be able to take a quick break to pet or play with a dog — it’s good therapy, and sometimes, it’s just what you need to refocus.”
Along with increasing employee morale, dogs may indirectly contribute to the bottom line. Jim Michelson, chairman of Simons, Michelson Zieve (SMZ) Advertising, says having a dog in the office can help woo prospective clients.
“When pitching new business, a prospective client mentioned that our office dog helped set our firm apart from competitors. It helps give our office personality,” Michelson says. “Other clients have even encouraged me to bring my dog to their offices for meetings.”
Although there are resounding positives to allowing dogs in the workplace, not everyone agrees that our four-legged friends belong in the office. Some are afraid or uncomfortable around dogs, and others are allergic. There also is the issue of dogs that bark, have accidents in the building or steal people’s lunches.
One solution for companies interested in fostering a pet-friendly workplace is to set up a pet policy and ask employees for input. Some have instituted the “three accidents and you’re out” rule while the dog policy at Invisible Fence® Brand is written into the company handbook.
“Any dog brought in for the day must be clean, free of fleas and offensive odor, house-broken and of good temperament,” Rogers says. “But the dogs are allowed to roam around the building and like to hang out in the conference rooms. An occasional bark during a conference call is the norm — they’re just taking part in the discussion!”