The Rat (Terrier) Race: Improving Workplace Performance With a Pet in the Office

“Dogs in the office” may seem like a questionable idea at first. In spite of easy to imagine worst-case scenarios, however, allowing employees to bring their pets to the workplace has consistently been associated with improved productivity, reduced stress, increased satisfaction at work, and an overall better workplace. This is a great way to incorporate these excellent benefits and add a unique bond between employees’ business lives and their personal lives.

The Benefits of a Furry Office Assistant

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Many people consider pets their children. Aside from the benefits listed, employees will take comfort in knowing their beloved animals are cared for. This incentivizes employees to get up, take breaks, and walk with their pets at work, which is a great way to increase levels of creativity and communication.

If you are considering a pet policy, be sure to weigh your options carefully. Some businesses allow their employees to bring their own pets, while others choose to adopt a single pet for the workplace, which can be a colorful way to brand an enterprise. Whichever you choose, keep these factors in mind.

Before You Adopt: Important Consideration

Bringing an adopted pet to an unprepared home can be a nightmare. An office, however, must undergo even greater care to make sure everyone is on the same page before critters are brought in. Check through these issues before proceeding:

  • Let everyone know the new policy. Is everyone allowed to bring their pets in? How will you make sure everyone controls their animals? Before giving the green flag, make sure everyone knows the office is still an office. Set standards for behavior and supervision, such as barking, roaming through the halls, chewing, scratching, etc. If different animals will be allowed (i.e., cats and dogs), make sure owners can handle these social interactions. Be aware of potential liabilities before committing.

Consider allowing certain species only on certain days or have a sign-up sheet to limit the number of people bringing in companions at once. This is also a good way to regulate which days are good for pets. For example, if an important visitor is coming by, you will have greater control over his or her experience with the animals. Breed restrictions are worth debating, as are age limits; this can ensure no one brings a pup or kitten that’s still learning how to behave.

  • Pet-proofing the space. If you’ve decided to allow pets, the next step is to make sure the office can handle it. Cats like to explore and knock things over; dogs may be restless or have high energy, and, of course, they’ll need to go to the bathroom. These are important expectations to outline in a pet policy. Keep trash bins, people food, and electrical appliances in mind. Make sure the animals are taken care of, and the experience will be fantastic for everyone.
  • Supply and demand. Depending on what pets you allow to be brought to work, anticipate the supplies needed to care for them. Cats will need litter; fish tanks will need to be cleaned and regulated, and all pets will need food, water, and a place to eat. Make sure personnel understand what they need to bring and what, if anything, will be provided.

The Best Office Pets

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Whether you decide to implement a “Bring Your Pet to Work” policy or limit it to a single mascot, keep these options in mind:

  • Dogs. Higher maintenance than the other options on the list, dogs are still an affectionate, loving, and playful choice. Breeds like Bulldogs, Charles Spaniels, and Greyhounds are a good option. They are amicable and friendly with manageable levels of energy.
  • Cats. They may not always be as sociable as dogs, but they are still affectionate, quiet, and extremely entertaining. Low maintenance is a definite perk if you allow cats. Look for cooperative and social breeds like Persians, Russian Blues, or Ragdolls.
  • Lizards. An exotic assistant at the front desk is a great way to draw attention. Lizards are also low maintenance, but setting up the right space for them will take time. You will need the right sized enclosure (depending on the species). They eat insects like crickets and worms and will need to be heated by an artificial source. The tank will need debris to replicate the animal’s natural environment, and it will need to be misted – in addition to having a water bowl – as this is how many lizards drink. Lizards can be kept safely in the office overnight.
  • Fish. Similar to lizards, fish are low maintenance (outside of setting up and maintaining an aquarium) and can be kept in an office overnight. Tank size, supplies, water type, and more will depend on the type of fish you want. Before you purchase, check that you have all the essential materials.
  • Birds. Birds are a great mix between personable, entertaining. They are also easy to care for. Quieter species, like cockatiels or parrotlets, are an ideal choice. The cage should be twice as wide as the bird’s wingspan and include bowls, toys, and the right bedding. These are easy to accommodate overnight and during busy work times.

Special Considerations

As you get ready to roll out your new pet policy, keep special circumstances like pet allergies or cynophobia (the fear of dogs) in mind. Even if your current employees are eager to bring their furry or scaly friends to work, it may deter future applicants from applying or investors from visiting. If this is an issue, you can consider limiting allowable pets (such as fish or reptiles) to still take advantage of some of these great perks.

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Dave Evans

When not reading or editing, Dave enjoys cooking with his girlfriend and adding allergy-friendly recipes to their cookbook. He plays music locally whenever he gets the chance, spends as much time as possible outdoors, and is an avid hockey fan.

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