Dogs in the workplace

Dogs AND Cats in the Workplace?

Over 82.5 million households have welcomed four-legged friends into their homes and into their lives. With pets increasingly being considered an integral part of the family, pet parents continue to look for additional ways to spend more time with their furry friend.  This may be the reason why pets are beginning to take over the workplace.

Pets in the workplace is a growing trend as nearly 1 out of every five employers have pet-friendly policies, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA). As a result, employers are specifically designing office space with the intent to be both human and pet-friendly. One company that has gone above and beyond to make their offices fit for furry friends is Petplan, a business that encourages its 100+ employees to bring their dogs and cats to work each day When Petplan began preparing for an office move, they made sure to incorporate pets into every aspect while designing their new work space. Completing their new digs in late 2013, Petplan has truly hit the mark in becoming a pet-friendly work oasis.

When you walk into Petplan’s building, you are greeted with a barking doorbell, floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal a colorful, modern space and giant pictures of Petplan’s insured pets that cover the walls.  As the safety of the pets is of paramount concern, Petplan has tried to think of everything – from suspended cabling to keep wires out of pets’ jaws to eliminating individual trash bins for communal covered wastebaskets and installing an extra heavy door to ensure curious pets stay away from the supply closets.

Natasha Ashton, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Petplan explains why the company is so darn pet-friendly.

Why did you decide to make Petplan pet-friendly?

The simple answer is: we didn’t initially have a choice! When we first launched Petplan, we ran the company from our apartment – and our cat, Bodey, was alongside us all the way, putting her pawprint of approval on it all! When it came time to open our first office, we knew our pets needed to be there, as well. After all, they are the reason for what we do – our passion and our inspiration – and we found that sharing our office with furry friends serves to reaffirm our team’s commitment to our core value, “pets come first.” That has remained constant, even as we have grown and moved offices.

What are the challenges associated with making a workplace pet-friendly?

Let’s just say that sometimes, accidents happen! But we are well-equipped for such instances, which are few and far between, thanks to the attentiveness of our team member pet parents and the good behavior of their four-legged friends. (And those easy-clean carpet tiles!)

What are the benefits associated with making a workplace pet-friendly?

Studies show that happy employees are productive employees, and it’s something we know to be true, as well. In a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), the majority of workers felt that having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment, increased employee satisfaction, decreased absenteeism and improved relationships between managers and employees – and we find this all to be true! And pets at work also provide much-needed comic relief. There’s nothing like watching pups playing tug-of-war – or racing around the office! – to brighten up any day!

What advice do you have for a company that wants to implement a pet-friendly policy?

It’s important to think big AND small when it comes to sharing your office with pets. Start by getting the okay from building management and outlining some guidelines for paw-ticipating pet parents to follow, including these simple steps to make bringing a furry family member to work safe and fun:

  • Technological Tie-Ups:  From computer cables to the office supply closet, there’s no shortage of gadgets and gizmos that can land our pets in trouble. Before bringing your best friend into your office, be sure to clear your work area of anything that might make tempting chew toys – cords included! – and keep things like scissors and printers up high and out of paws’ reach.
  • Behind Closed Doors:  The office environment is a brand new experience for your dog, and he’ll want to explore new sights and smells in every direction. Keep careful watch at office doors – especially the ones that lead outside – and keep your dog leashed at all times when not gated or crated safely in your workspace so he doesn’t wander too far afield.
  • Office Paw-litics:  Just as you may not mesh well with every person you work with, your pets can clash with certain paw-sonalities at work, too. To keep squabbles from surfacing, introduce your furry friend to one or two other pets at a time, or bring him on a day when he’ll be the only pet present. Keep toys, treats and anything pets might compete over out of common areas, and avoid letting other furry friends into his personal space, including beds or cat carriers.

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