Animals in the workplace? Is this a good idea? Animal therapy interactions have been shown to create a sense of calm, lower stress levels and improve overall morale; research by Virginia Commonwealth University found “employees who brought their dogs to the workplace saw an 11% decrease in their stress levels, whereas those who left their dogs at home saw a 70% increase”.
It appears animals in the workplace can we good for business – after all, major brands such as Google, Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Nestle and Etsy seem to think so.
Per research by Reed.co.uk, 8% of UK employees are able to bring their dogs to work.
Whether it’s Rover the dog or Tom the cat, some workplaces have truly embraced the workplace pet with animal-friendly workplaces:
Google are a dog loving office, and although they don’t outright ban cats from the workplace, their policy is pretty clear: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”
Why dogs? Meghan Casserly, Corporate Communications Manager at Google, explains: “dogs at work embody the tenacity, loyalty and all-around playfulness of our company culture. As long as they respect our ‘no peeing on the carpets’ policy.” That last part might be something to think about, for anyone thinking of jumping in and welcoming dogs into the office!
“Petting a dog for just 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol”. – Health Magazine research on stress management and dogs
2015 saw the introduction of Nestlé’s PAW (Pets at Work) programme, where every pet gets its own “passpawt”. Employees are welcome to bring their dogs, or ‘canine colleagues’ as they are referred to, into designated animal-friendly meeting rooms. Employees can also let their good boys and girls off the leash in the specially designed, and rather humorously named, Central Bark dog area.
“The atmosphere in the office is warmer now and more sociable, people will stop you in the corridors to stroke your dog so you start talking to someone in a different part of the company who you’d never normally have spoken to, or have only encountered over email.” - Odette Forbes, head of media relations, Nestle
In Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, you’ll find approximately 6,000 dogs on any given day. On the 17th floor is the Doggy Deck, where the dogs can freely play within a specially-designed area, specifically for dogs. Every reception desk is stocked with a selection of treats, and even Halloween is a time to celebrate with Barktoberfest, where dogs and their humans can dress up a range of costumes. Amazon’s pet policy is managed by Lara Hirschfield, who possible has the coolest job title: Woof Pack Manager.
“It’s a really great indication of our culture: We work hard, we innovate, we push boundaries, but we also have a lot of fun. I tell other organizations, it’s a priceless benefit." – Lara Hirschfield, Facilities Manager and Woof Pack Manager
National Take Your Dog to Work Day take places annually on June 24
Recently our Head of Corporate Development bought his dog into the office for the day. Suki is a well behaved half Cavalier KC Spaniel, half Bichon Frisee, and happily trotted around Condeco’s departments for the day. She was a novelty, but one that was taken well, and she even managed to get in a couple of short walks (and plenty of cuddles).
But it’s not just dogs who are taking over the office
San Francisco-based graphic design and web company Pixelkeet, are taking to the skies – in this business you’ll find a flock of birds, or rather parakeets, to be precise. Jello, Vice Parakeet of Marketing and Etizo, Director of Parakeet Relations, will either be perched in their cages, hanging out on the top, or roaming around the office in, well, hamster balls. Even their website boasts more birds than humans.
“For about a year, Pixelkeet didn’t even display humans on its team page and would only post pictures of the parakeets working on projects” – Jessica Greenwalt, Founder
Best practice with pets
If you fancy joining in the animal fun, and improve employee morale to boot, your business will need to ensure it has created an animal-friendly office, and ideally follow best practice guidelines. Per health and safety consultancy Protecting.co.uk, animals could invalidate a businesses liability insurance, with the potential of risking their fire safety certificates. It’s essential a risk assessment is completed before canine companions (or any other species) are invited into the workspace.
Nestlé ensure all dogs that enter their workplace are insured for third-party liability claims, and all health checks are completed by the in-house vet, which is free to canine colleagues.
Need a little advice when creating a pet policy? CIO.com recommend a few rules and practical advice, which includes; make sure no one objects (remember that both animal allergies and phobias are common, and all employees should have the chance to say no and be heard); create designated pet-friendly days of the week so schedules can be better managed; establish pet-free zones for those who don’t wish to partake; take turns, or limit the number of pets per day, for optimum success; and most importantly of all, remember that health and hygiene is paramount.
Good luck! We hope if you decide to invite pets into the office, that your experience is paw-some, and employees see the benefits