Dog at work with owner

The Pros and Cons of a Pet Friendly Office (Talking Business Article December 2022)

Dog at work with owner

As the world slowly begins to emerge from its various stages of lockdown restrictions, our furry best friends were suddenly left at home alone once more. Mars Petcare Australia, a well-known pet food brand, released research last year which revealed 35 per cent of Australian pet owners surveyed were concerned about their physical return to the office and its impact on their pet (post COVID-19 lockdowns). The top three concerns shared included pet loneliness (50 per cent), personal guilt for being away (20 per cent) and financial concerns around having to pay for a pet sitter or walking service (19 per cent).

As a result, there is a growing trend of both humans and pets experiencing separation anxiety. Should businesses consider creating workplace pet policies? Pet-friendly workplaces can take various forms such as allowing employees to bring their pets in to work with them, having an office pet or organising for animals to visit the workplace (eg some animal welfare organisations offer programs where they bring animals up for adoption to visit a workplace). Interestingly, 51 per cent of the nation say they are more likely to take on a new job with an employer who supports pets in the workplace. For ‘generation Z’ this number jumps to a staggering 70 per cent.

So what are the ramifications of creating such a policy?

There are certainly positive aspects to having animals in the workplace with reports indicating it can reduce stress and improve social interaction and job satisfaction. However, there are also other factors to consider such as potential hazards and other concerns such as people’s allergies and phobias of certain animals. There are many organisations out there who have already successfully implemented a pet friendly policy.

Look at what the risks were, how they handled them and how this could be applied to your own business situation. A useful document to help work through all the issues is the Pets at Work Toolkit (funded by pet food maker Mars Petcare).

Visit Better Cities for Pets website to learn more