A boost in productivity. Decreased absenteeism. Lowered stress levels. These are just a few of the benefits employers cite when talking about their pet-friendly offices. As the U.S. looks ahead to more offices and office flex schedules after a year of working from home, some employees are asking: But, what about my pets?
Pets, already hugely important to Americans — especially Millennials — became furry lifesavers during the pandemic’s enforced lockdowns. With human contact out the window and living rooms converted into offices, dogs, cats, birds, and other animal pals became coworkers.
Some employees may also be facing leaving their pets for the very first time when they return to the office. Animal rescues reported up to double their average number of adoptions throughout 2020 as people filled their ample free time with pets, according to the Washington Post. Some animal shelters have repeatedly run out of dogs due to high demand.
Banfield Pet Hospital recently released results of a survey asking how pet owners feel about returning to the workplace, and the results are very pet-friendly.
Employees had this to say:
63% say increased time at home has made them think more about how their pets can fit into their workday post-pandemic.
57% agree they’ll be most happy returning the workplace if they can bring their pets with them.
32% of owners said they’re recently reached out to their veterinarian for advice on making the transition back into the workplace easier on their pets.
Meanwhile, employers seemed to be on the same page. Executives replied to the survey as well.
1 in 2 C-suite executives said they’re planning to allow pets in the workplace. Of these:
59% said they’ll allow more flexibility for workers wanting to stay remote with pets.
59% said they’re doing so because of employee requests.
42% said they want to entice their employees back into the office.
Are Pet-Friendly Offices Really That Mainstream?
Perhaps not surprisingly, companies with a strong history of innovation, such as Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon, already have pet-friendly HQs. These employers tend to cater towards Millennial and Gen X employees, who are more likely to characterize their pets in the “family” category.
And some employees were already choosing their employers based on dog-friendly workspaces back in 2019, according to Employee Benefits News. “59% of the respondents surveyed by Mars Petcare say they would choose to work for a dog-friendly employer over one that is not,” the website published in November 2019. “Research shows that people thrive in pet friendly workplaces,” the company’s VP of people and organization told EBN. “For us, it’s a no brainer.”
Setting Up Pet-Friendly Office Rules
Even cute pups have to follow the rules. Typical pet-friendly office rules include requiring proof of vaccination, being fully house broken, and being friendly with other animals. Noise is a no-no, and allergic employees must be accommodated with appropriate work spaces as well. And it should go without saying that bringing in fleas is an absolute dealbreaker — but make sure you’ve got these rules in writing, anyway. Pet-friendly offices will also need waivers to cover everyone just in case there’s an accident or incident involving a pet.
If you’re considering an effort to poll your employees on their thoughts on pet-friendly office, or check in with them regarding how they’re handling the thought of leaving their pets for the workplace, the time to reach out is now. With many younger workers saying they’d look for a new job if their workplace refused to go pet-friendly, your retention and employee satisfaction might depend on how you handle the post-pandemic pet landscape.
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