Pet Projects, Part 2

We recently covered pet projects, or activities and goals pursued as personal favorites. For many of us, the ideal pet project would be about…you guessed it, our pets! Which brings us to the question of pets in the workplace. Paws up or paws down?

Paws Up: The biggest benefit of allowing pets to cuddle up in our cubicles is better employee health and attendance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the presence of pets reduces stress, which lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. Having to take dogs out for bathroom breaks gives employees an opportunity for a little exercise. On a social level, pets invite coworkers – even those who are normally reserved – to open up and bond with one another, a real boost to engagement and teamwork. And while you might think that people would spend more time rubbing bellies and throwing tennis balls than slaving over spreadsheets, pet-friendly companies tend to show an overall increase in productivity. It’s also a very attractive benefit to potential employees.

Paws Down: Just as pets aren’t for everybody’s lifestyle, they’re not for everybody’s workstyle either. A major issues is allergies, which will be just as bothersome in the office, if not more so. Some employees may also have a fear of dogs. Then there’s always the possibility that a normally well-behaved dog might feel threatened in a strange environment and injure someone. Finally, consider whether your business is appropriate for pets. In food service or medical facilities, animals can easily compromise the quality of products or service. By the same token, don’t encourage bringing pets into environments that could be harmful to their well-being, like construction sites or repair shops.

If you’re still interested in campaigning for canine (or feline) companions, take the following steps:

  • Survey your coworkers to see if they would be interested in this benefit.
  • Set pet policies, including etiquette (like picking up after pets) and how to handle possible legal and liability issues.
  • Pet-proof the environment. Establish where pets are and aren’t allowed, designate areas for bathroom breaks, and keep temptations and dangers out of pets’ reach.
  • Suggest a trial run. A couple of weeks is a good amount of time to see if welcoming Westies and Weimaraners is good for your company.

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