Is a Pet-Friendly Workplace Right for You?

A reader writes:  What are the pros and cons of allowing employees to bring their pets to work? It can be the most important factor in deciding whether or not to accept a position with a new company, KISSmetrics reports.

A study out of Virginia Commonwealth University found one of the ways to promote a better workplace is by allowing employees to bring their dogs to work. The researchers found it reduced stress and made the job more satisfying for everyone the dogs came in contact with. Their findings also revealed mostly positive comments from employees, such as dogs in the workplace being a big bonus for office morale, providing great stress relief and even increasing cooperation between co-workers.

Of course, if you have an allergy to dogs or you just don’t feel comfortable around them, a pet-friendly workplace is probably not for you. But, if you’re on the fence, you might want to consider what some companies are doing, how their employees feel about it and how it enhances — or sometimes distracts — from their day-to-day working experiences.

Trupanion

Photo by jimw via Flickr

Seattle-based Trupanion has one of the highest pet-to-employee ratios in the nation, with one pet for every three employees. The pet insurance company has been pet-friendly since its inception in 1999.

Founder and CEO Darryl Rawlings believes during those challenging moments when employees need to process their thoughts, having their favorite animal friend at their side for petting can help. Pets are also there to help “break the ice” when meeting a new co-worker, and when there is a need to work late, there are no worries about rushing home to get back to a pet who has been alone all day.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Continuing to help expand the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace, Trupanion is now rewarding other companies who do the same. Austin, Texas-based Tito’s Handmade Vodka was its first annual “Pet-Friendly Workplace Seal of Approval” contest winner. Employees here are encouraged to bring all types of pets into the office, including rabbits. A doggie play area can be found next to the distillery and offices so pets can roam free.

Photo by anataen via Flickr

Tito’s Creative Pioneer, Beth Bellanti, noted their team believes having a furry friend nearby helps to contribute to a more productive and happy environment. Bellanti says Tito built his distillery with his “very beloved dog by his side 16 years ago,” and the culture of having dogs around has “always been a comfort.”

Photo by starshaped via Flickr

The company has also rescued numerous homeless dogs and cats who have wandered onto distillery grounds. Of course, one of the downsides of pets in the workplace is the mess they can make. For offices that allow cats, a self-cleaning litter box can help alleviate any odor issues to help keep the environment more pleasant. For dogs, making time throughout employees’ shifts to take them out to grassy areas is crucial.

G5

In 2011, Inc. Magazine named Bend, Ore.-based G5 as one of America’s top small company workplaces. CEO Dan Hobin stated the company’s corporate culture is a critical component of its success. Part of that culture includes being a dog-friendly workplace.

Photo by acrookston via Flickr

Whatever employees need to do to thrive is allowed, Hobin has said, and if that involves “bringing your dog to work, bring your dog to work.”

Autodesk

Photo by West Midlands Police via Flickr

San Rafael, Calif. is the home of Autodesk, one of the first software companies to initiate the pet-friendly workplace trend. Its corporate policies include the recognition of the positive benefits of dogs in the workplace. Autodesk also offers dog training classes scheduled during lunch hour and even a dog insurance group plan. A spokesperson for the company told thebark.com they feel bringing a pet to work encourages employees to take breaks during the day, as many tend to work through them without a real reason to get away.

Amazon.com

The well-known multi-billion dollar electronic commerce company based in Seattle has also welcomed pets into the workplace since its founding in 1994. It was said to have begun with a Corgi named Rufus who passed away in 2009, but continues to live on with a building named after him, his own help page on the website, and his name stamped onto many of the door handles throughout the offices, according to mynorthwest.com.

Corporate Communications Manager Ty Rogers told mynorthwest.com Amazon offers many perks for pets, including dog biscuits and dog-friendly water fountains. Everything from “Chihuahuas to big Great Danes,” can be found with “lots of dogs running around and playing with each other.”

Photo by Al Abut via Flickr

The employees are said to be respectful of the work environment and use common sense in bringing them in. Amazon guidelines state bringing dogs to work is a privilege. After nearly two decades of pets in the workplace, it seems to be working out well.

Article by Ian Gray:Ian has served as CFO for a number of businesses.

 

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