Dogs at work was a perk at more dotcom companies than I can count during the early days of the Internet. And it’s one trend from that era that has not only survived, but thrived at companies big and small.
Check out this Forbes list of the top pet-friendly companies. Then check out Brutus, the bulldog who’s the unofficial mascot for one family-owned fitness center:
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There are many reasons having dogs at work is so popular. First, dogs provide a relaxation break not only for their owners but also for other employees who get to pet and play with them.
In a study by Virginia Commonwealth University, researchers observed a company that had 20 to 30 dogs on the premises every day. Having their dogs at the office not only reduced employees’ stress, but also made them more likely to feel their employer cared about them. Almost 50 percent of employees whose dogs came to the office said they were more productive, not less.
The presence of dogs at work also helped boost employee morale and cooperation among workers.
For dog owners, bringing their pets to work means less stress about rushing home at the end of the day to feed and walk the dog — which means they can be more focused and work longer hours when needed. Employees can also save money on expenses like hiring dog walkers or paying for doggie daycare.
But allowing dogs at work isn’t a no-brainer, either. No matter how much you want Fido to frolic in your conference room, consider these factors first.
Before Permitting Dogs at Work …
Some employees are allergic to dogs, are afraid of them or simply don’t like the idea of having a canine companion at work. It’s important to make sure reluctant employees feel free to honestly express their concerns and that you take them into account before making a decision.
Consider the impact on your facility. First, will your landlord even let you bring a dog to the office? Always check beforehand even if your lease doesn’t explicitly prohibit pets. Wear and tear from dogs, as well as potential “accidents” and the accompanying clean-up, can mean higher insurance rates or janitorial costs for you or your landlord.
Liability is a concern. One way around this is to create a liability release form employees must sign before bringing their pets in so that they, not you, are on the hook.
Cleanup and Disposal
You’ll need to deal with necessities such as making sure dogs have a place to poop, ensuring their owners pick it up, and having a place to dispose of it (investing in a Diaper Genie might not be a bad idea). Dogs also need water dishes and may need to get fed and walked if they become restless.
If your business is a fast-paced, intense one where employees can’t take a quick break to deal with their pets, dogs might not fit. And, of course, any dog you allow in your business needs to be friendly with people and other dogs, housebroken, well-behaved and have current vaccinations.
A good way to get started is by easing into the idea of dogs at work.
For example, you can have dogs at work on a trial basis and see how it goes. You could also designate one day a week as “dog day” when pets are allowed. If you’ve got several employees clamoring to bring their pets and are concerned that the dogs may not get along, you could have each employee pick a specific day of the week to bring in his or her canine.
Would you ever allow dogs at work? Or do you already?