One thing employees have enjoyed while working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is the companionship of their pets. Having gotten used to working from home, a lot of employees now prefer this setup compared to on-site working in the pre-pandemic era. Because some of your employees may have become first-time pet owners during the pandemic, they will surely be worried about how to care for their pets if they come back to the office.
What if you could make your office more appealing for returning staff who have pets by allowing them to bring their fur babies along with them to work? Sure, this will incur some big changes on your part like transforming areas designated for pets, buying items like wholesale dog collars and treats, and dealing with occasional scuffles between pets. But having their pets at work can also give employees an instant mood boost when needed, which can help improve their productivity.
This article will cover some basic things to consider in making your office pet-friendly and touch on the benefits of bringing pets to the workplace. Let's go through the steps involved in turning your office into a pet-friendly space.
Before going crazy and tearing up a section of the office to become a pet holding area, talk to your staff. Ask for their opinions on having pets at work. This can help you gauge how much more willing they will be to work on-site with the introduction of this new concept.
This meeting can also bring forth important issues like the welfare of staff who don't own pets and cannot come near them because of severe allergies. Make plans for compromise if you have staff who have allergies. If there is a positive response to the idea, consult with your employees again after drafting the pet policy for your office.
A necessary step when introducing something new to the office is always to establish rules. Make a policy for bringing pets in the workplace. This should include the types of pets that will be allowed, their designated places, required vaccinations, pet owner responsibilities, and conditions that will result in a pet being asked to leave. By putting down ground rules for employees to follow, you can ensure a safe, happy experience for everyone.
It will also be helpful to brainstorm and plan for possible emergencies before putting the plan into action. Meet with staff who have pets and discuss what course of action to take in case emergencies such as scuffles between pets result in injuries. This way, pet owners can talk together and think of preventive measures for possible problems. For example, if the owner notices their dog is under stress, then it may be best to take them out on a short walk away from other pets in the office.
Of course, you will have to make adjustments to accommodate the pets. The area where they will be kept should have durable flooring that can withstand scratches and damage. Some good flooring options include painted concrete or tiles. Pet-proof this area by removing any breakables or moving them out of reach.
Use different-colored, highly-visible collars or bandanas so that pet owners and other staff can identify their pets even from a distance. This system helps with identifying pets who are under stress or involved in fights. It may be better to look for stores that sell dog collars and ID tags along with toys and other pet items in bulk so you can save money, time, and effort by making just a single trip to the store.
The comfort of your employees' animal companions should be a top concern. Make sure to furnish the designated area with delicious treats, water bowls, scratching posts, kitty litter, poop bags, and other pet essentials. This way, the pets will feel right at home, and your staff can also work productively without worrying too much about their pet's wellbeing.
Although extensive research has not been done to establish direct effect relationships between bringing pets and company growth, studies show that staff who bring their pet to work have lower workplace anxiety and stress. These can lead to better productivity and less burnout. Since pets have become a source of social support for many owners during the pandemic lockdowns, the comfort they bring promotes positive and productive energy.
Having pets also enables your staff to take breathers in between hectic schedules and also promotes some physical activity. Employees can go on short walks or play with their pets for a few minutes instead of staying at their desks all day.
The policy can also help your team bond better. By having a shared interest and spending time with the pets and each other, you can bring about a more harmonious workplace. There may be challenges but communicating to solve these issues can ultimately form a better team that works together to solve problems.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to a standstill, but restrictions are being lifted now that vaccinations are well underway. This has restored mobility to the majority of the population, including office workers who were forced to stay at home for a year. By following the steps outlined above to make your office pet-friendly, you can encourage your employees to come back and work on-site.