Pet Friendly Offices?

An office fist bump

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There’s an emerging trend, one that concerns the pooch and your place of work. It’s a real plus for pet owners and even for those who aren’t fans, although I’m inclined to think about those who aren’t fans. Pet friendly offices are on the rise and apparently this type of setup can serve in a very beneficial capacity. I don’t think it’s going to spread like wild fire any time soon, and for a number of reasons. For one, the office space itself would need to see changes - physical changes - and last I checked those don’t come cheap. Then there’s the mere fact that your colleagues need to be taken into consideration. They might not be keen on the idea of a dog or a hamster in the workplace. Those wood chippings have a certain smell and let’s not forget that not everyone likes the smell of dog. I think there’s a lot to be taken into consideration in making an office pet-friendly, and even more if the decision gets made to scale the idea.

The Advantages

The strongest arguments for pet friendly offices are psychologically based. Research on the subject indicates that pets in the work place can bring alleviation to common work place psychological stumbling blocks, such as anxiety and stress. I’m more of a cat person, mainly because cats don’t smooch your bottom all the time to get your attention. However, I’ll also say that even a hardened individual like myself eventually falls for the cute and constant sycophantic nature of dogs. They do something to the soul, dogs, and I suspect it’s something that goes back thousands of years to the time when our ancestors domesticated the wolf. The bond that was formed all those many moons ago and the path we’ve walked with them ever since is part of human history, part of mankind’s story. The dog is part of our evolutionary collective and thus maybe even a part of who we are as a species. Like I said, I’m more of a cat person.

Research also indicates that a pet in the office can raise the spirits and foster an air of community. I say pets but I’m primarily referring to dogs and possibly caged critters; a cat is way too independent to handle the confines of an office. It’s been revealed that pets can serve as ice-breakers and encourage further communication between office workers and/or colleagues who usually wouldn’t speak to one another. Alcohol might be the social lubricant outside of work, but at work that job belongs to Fido. Fido Lager – you’ll feel as if you’re down at the pub!

Further evidence suggests that pet friendly offices make it feel like less of a work place and more like home. Thus, the office starts to feel more like a home away from home, and because Rusty needs a pat every now and then, the need for a break from the task at hand is always on hand. Let’s not forget that dogs, like us, also need to clear a space, and this means going outside and getting fresh air, something one wouldn’t necessarily do on one’s own accord.

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The Disadvantages

So far it seems like pet friendly offices are nothing short of a sure-fire remedy for happier employees. Happier workers means a more productive workforce, so why aren’t we jumping at the idea of letting Bruno come along to work? Well, for one thing, there are disruptions to think about and because pets tend to generate interest, the workflow can suffer from too many cute distractions. Next thing you know targets are not being achieved and the numbers are down. Let’s not forget there are some truly hardened individuals out there who flat-out don’t like pets, so imagine the looks of sheer detest on their faces?

Allergies! Some of us love pets and would love to have them but simply cannot because no sooner have we come within range of them; we’re sneezing more than someone who suffers from hay fever. Having allergies that are exacerbated by the presence of a pet could be counter-productive to the social environment potentially created by said pet, and instead lead to resentment. The last thing you want is the stink eye from one of your colleagues.

Once you introduce Rover into the work place, you have immediately created the potential for an accident or injury. The situation could be the result of either human or pet. In the case of the former, all it takes is for you to accidentally step on Coco’s tail to receive an instant sharp-toothed rebuttal. In the case of the latter, no matter how well trained or behaved Rocko might be, he will need to go through an adjustment period to his new environment. This means that he will be on edge, and could be easily provoked and easily be made to retaliate should you trip over him by accident.

Lastly, and most likely the biggest bee in the bonnet - messing. Sheila might urinate or drop a nugget behind the copy machine, which unnoticed will eventually become noticed once the smell is strong enough. Questions of hygiene can then easily come into play. Even if Larry is potty-trained, the possibility of something occurring will exist in an environment that he is not used to. He might stumble upon something, give it a chew and be sick.

Final Thoughts

I’d like to think that I’m on the fence, but I’m veering more towards pet friendly offices. I think that despite their benefits, the implementation will always be flawed, and for that reason, which is a series of reasons, I vote against pets in the office place. Power to you if you’ve seen it work or are currently working in a pet-friendly office.

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