The pandemic has taught us all many lessons. Perhaps one of the most important is that we should look for positives wherever we can find them – a skill that was particularly important during the darkest days of this global shutdown. One of the bright spots in the forced work-from-home transition was the opportunity to spend so much time with our pets. Rather than leaving our pets alone for the duration of the workday, they became trusted co-workers and a source of much-needed happiness.
As the working world gradually transitions back to an in-person model, it will be difficult for many people to leave those beloved pets behind. If this is something that is concerning some of the members of your team, consider creating a pet policy for your office. With a carefully designed pet policy in place, you can allow employees to bring pets to work occasionally without disrupting the flow of productivity. Let’s take a closer look at how this can work and why it is worth your consideration.
The Value of Having Pets in the Office
For many business owners and office managers, the idea of having pets roaming the office is a bit overwhelming at first. If you’ve never experimented with this trend in your office, it would be easy to think that the pets will be distracting. And while it’s true that the potential for distraction does exist, there are many potential benefits to keep in mind when approaching this topic.
Employee satisfaction. Simply put, allowing an employee to bring their pet to work for the day is a great way to boost their overall satisfaction as a member of the team. If you think about it from their perspective, it’s easy to see why this would have such a positive impact. It’s not just about the act of bringing the pet to the office – it’s about what this kind of policy says about how you view your employees. Rather than seeing them as robots used for maximum production, you are treating them as people who have feelings and emotions. That alone is enough to significantly improve the way your employees feel about their job and your organization as a whole.
Building camaraderie. It’s no secret that getting your employees to work together cooperatively is a big help to reaching the goals of the business. Strong teams are built on strong relationships, and pets can be one of many ways to foster those kinds of relationships. If two members of different departments are able to bond over a shared love of dogs, for example, that new friendship could have a powerful impact on how those departments collaborate on work projects.
Keeping the days fresh. We all know the feeling of one day running into the next when working in an office. If everything in the office looks the same day after day, and the tasks are pretty much the same, it’s easy to fall into a rut. With pets around, that’s less likely to be the case. With their ability to bring out a smile even in the middle of a mundane day, pets can perk up a sleepy office and get your teams back on track.
Traditionally, there has been a tendency to look at the negative side of bringing pets to the office, which is why so many companies did not allow this activity. However, when you give the proper attention to the positive side of the ledger, it starts to look like an initiative that is well worth your time.
Crafting an Effective Pet Policy
If you decide to allow pets in your office, you are going to need a carefully planned pet policy. There are plenty of potential benefits to giving your employees this option, but it can lead to trouble if you don’t start out with a strong policy to govern the process. Specifically, we think the five points below are an important starting point as ground rules for bringing pets to work.
An age limit. Establish a minimum age for pets that come into your office, so you can avoid the inevitable problems that come along with animals who have not yet had time to be trained properly. 3 months is a good place to start, but you could move that out to 6 months if you want to play it safe.
Vaccinations. Bringing pets to the office is something that needs to be safe for everyone involved, so include a rule in your policy that demands all pets have received the vaccinations required by law in your area.
Covered by insurance. This one is important. There is always the possibility that something unexpected will happen when you bring an animal into an area where humans are working, so require insurance to be in place. Homeowners or renters insurance will often cover dog bites, but make sure that is the case for each individual who wants to participate in this program.
Microchipping. Office doors will be opened and closed regularly throughout the day, so making sure every pet is microchipped is a good policy in case they need to be located and recovered.
Owner responsibilities. One part of your pet policy should clearly outline what pet owners are expected to do when they choose to bring a pet to the office. This can include things like providing food and water, getting the pet outside to go to the bathroom, etc.
You will need to create a pet policy that addresses not only the basics listed above, but also any specific issues that might relate to your business and your office building. Every situation is a little different, so a boilerplate policy used by other businesses probably won’t be quite right for your needs.
An Ongoing Process
Don’t view your pet policy as a static document that is set in stone once it is written. Instead, actively seek out feedback from employees once the pet program goes into effect and you test out how it is working in a real-world application. Are there additional rules that need to be put in place? Or could some of the rules be relaxed to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone? Continue to update and tweak your policy regularly and keep everyone in the office informed about those changes.
Implementing a pet policy might seem like a lot of work at first, and there certainly will be some effort required upfront. However, once that work is done and your policy is active, employees will love the freedom it gives them to bring a valued member of the family to work from time to time. And as long as the policy is enforced fairly and updated as needed, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of having pets in the office without dealing with any frustrating problems or distractions. Good luck!
Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.