Pets in the workplace is a perk many employers are embracing. It’s low cost, and for the most part, well-accepted. Dogs are the usual pet allowed, as they are most able to adjust seamlessly to a workplace with multiple people. Dogs are social and get along with each other. As with any change in the workplace, there are some adjustments and concerns when pets are introduced.
What Types of Workplaces Allow Dogs?
Registered service dogs, those who are specifically trained and who work with people with disabilities, are allowed access where their human goes, as long as human safety is not impacted. For all dogs, though, even those registered, food production and service restricts animals due to health and safety concerns. If a production facility has loud noises that require human workers to wear hearing protection, dogs should not be present. But a co-working space, an office with minimal retail traffic, or a workplace with offices and enough space for dog beds next to the desk are good options for dogs in the workplace.
What About Liability?
There is always the possibility that something can go wrong. Most HR departments will require pet owners to sign liability waivers that reduce responsibility for accident and injury to the pet owner, rather than the workplace. Most will also restrict breeds to reduce risk. And while some pet owners might complain that dogs are not the only pets, the challenges of having a multi-species office, with snakes, birds, cats, and dogs, is mind-boggling.
Problems with Pets
While most American and European cultures embrace dogs, and having pets in the workplace is considered a perk, not all cultures are as comfortable with our “one of the family” relationship with dogs. Before a new policy goes into effect allowing dogs in the workplace, there should be a time of public comment so the degree of discomfort can be measured. It would also be smart to assess if any staff members have significant allergies to dogs before changing the work environment.
Pets in the workplace can be an inexpensive, easy perk that brings a degree of happiness and social interaction to many workplaces. Dogs can bridge social divides, and allow shy or introverted team members to interact easily with others. Workplace design can be easily adapted to allow for the addition of pets, and includes spaces for dog beds, outdoor walking paths, dog water stations, and other adjustments to space.
Can we help you design a new office for humans and their dogs? Please get in touch.