The Pet Friendly Office: Is it Right for Your Business?

Posted by Denise Pooler on Feb 20, 2018 9:21:27 AM
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Is your office thinking about letting the dogs in, and become pet-friendly? If so, you’re not alone. About seven percent of American businesses let employees bring their pets to work, a considerable increase from even a few years ago. Many employers believe a pet-friendly workplace improves an office; they have noted improved morale and collaboration among employees after establishing a pets-at-work-policy. Several studies have also indicated that pet-friendly office policies help to attract talented millennials, an age group that tends to be pet-oriented.

However, before deciding whether or not to make your office pet-friendly, here are six things your company should think about.

Assess Your Business

Before you even consider a pet-friendly office policy at all, you should check out your office; is it even feasible to allow animals there? There are many workplaces where pets would be a poor fit. For example, machine shops and factories, or any office that has heavy machinery, are probably not good places for pets. Similarly, it would be a bad idea to allow employees’ pets in a restaurant, or any business that has to handle food in sanitary conditions. So determine if having pets in your workplace would be problematic or unsafe before you consider anything else.

Survey Your Employees 

Once you’ve assessed your workplace for feasibility, you should get feedback from your employees; do they want to work alongside their co-workers’ dogs, cats, birds, and other animals? Some people dislike or are afraid of animals; others may suffer debilitating animal hair allergies. If a sizable portion of your employees are averse to a pet-friendly workplace, allowing animals in the office could be counterproductive and problematic.

Call Your Landlord and Insurance Broker

What do your landlords think about animals in their building? Most businesses rent or lease office space; if that is the case for your company, talk to your building manager or landlord and ensure that they’ll allow animals on the premises; some landlords may be unwilling to do so. They may be concerned about the effects pets would have on other building tenants, and may also be anxious about potential damages animals could cause to the building. 

Additionally, your company should also check in with its insurance broker, and see what the implications are. In some cases, your insurance company may assess additional risk in allowing pets in your office space, and this could increase your premium.

Consider the Implications

Prior to moving any further with a pet-friendly office, management should consider the effect that the policy may have on their business. While many companies report positive effects from introducing pets into the workplace, others noted the challenges of doing so effectively. Managers have found that having pets in the office can distract employees, and sometimes lowers productivity. Other companies have been concerned about the damage pets can cause to an office, or the potential threat of a dog biting someone there. Having pets may also require your company to modify your building to make it pet-safe, or clean it more, which will increase expenses, too.

If, upon weighing the pros and cons, your company does want to make its office pet friendly, it should determine what objectives it wants to achieve in doing so. Some goals a company should consider is how allowing pets in the office can increase productivity, improve morale or to increase communication between employees. When you’ve determined your objectives, it is time to write the policy.

Make a Policy

A pet-friendly office policy should spell out exactly how your company is going to make an office with pets in it work. Are you going to allow employees to bring all manner of pets to the office? What are the employees’ responsibilities for managing their pets while they are in the workspace? What are the company’s responsibilities?  Where are places at the office where pets are prohibited? Do employees need to sign liability waivers to bring their pets to work? Make sure that a lawyer reviews your company’s policy prior to issuing it. A written policy will set clear ground rules for everyone, and help ensure that the pet-friendly policy is a net positive for your office.

Get Help

Once you’ve established a pet-friendly office policy, you should talk to an animal expert. Find someone who can examine your office space, and help your company prepare to implement the policy. A pet expert or veterinarian can inspect your physical office space, and recommend any changes to make it safer for animals and people. They may also be able to help you optimize the workspace, so that humans and animals alike can benefit from the new policy.

Parting Thoughts

Pet-friendly offices are on the rise, and some employers believe they can help increase employee morale and productivity; others, however, have noted that allowing pets at work can be challenging. Before deciding to allow pets in the office, businesses should think about the all the implications. These considerations here can help your company make the best choice about a pet-friendly office. So make sure you think about them before you allow dogs, cats or birds to roam around your workspace.

Topics: Pets at Work

Wood Gutmann & Bogart Insurance Brokers is California's premier, full-service regional insurance brokerage. We provide a complete range of commercial, personal and employee benefits insurance products and services. We are proud to be ranked among the Top 100 Independent Insurance Agencies by Insurance Journal and one of the Best Places to Work by the Orange County Business Journal.

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