How to Create a Pet-Friendly Environment That Puts People First

Published on March 10, 2020

When our organization moved to the Woolworth Building in New York City, the real estate team made sure to negotiate a lease that allowed dogs in the space.

Dogs are an integral part of our company culture. They keep our staff feeling at home. When dog-owners and their pups enter the office they are greeted with huge smiles and excitement. People gather around the dog for a morning pet, sometimes barely saying “hello” to the human standing beside it. Dogs are conducive to a strong sense of unity between coworkers, as colleagues stop by in between meetings and projects for a moment of puppy zen.

Dogs are a resource for stress relief throughout the work day. Scientific research backs this up. Studies since the 1980s have shown that being around pets has enormous health benefits for humans. Having animals near can lower blood pressure, aid recovering from heart conditions, and improve overall emotional well-being. A pet friendly office complements workplace initiatives that promote healthy heart rates, such as TRX bands or yoga spaces. Accommodating pets in the office creates mindfulness in the form of emotional therapy.

However, not every office gets dog-friendly workspaces right. Pets can be important members of the office community, but it’s important to create an environment that still puts people first. Here are a few ways offices can achieve this balance:

1. Owner Paperwork

Require dog owners planning to bring their dog into the office to supply copies of vaccination records, pet insurance, and any obedience training. Dogs aren’t allowed to be groomed without proof of vaccination, so offices certainly need the same assurance.

2. Limit the Number of Dogs Allowed Per Day

There’s a reason people work at coffee shops, not dog parks. Not all dogs get along with each other, and not all dogs are trained well enough to handle the distractions of an office. Limiting the number of dogs allowed into the office makes it easier for individuals to keep an eye on their dog at all times, ensuring others can work without distractions like barking, chasing, or fights over squeaky toys.

3. Set Clear Guidelines

Clear guidelines are paramount to establishing balance for your team. Create an office dog calendar so people can sign up at least once a week to bring their dog. Your office might also consider designating pet friendly days. This way, everyone has a framework for when to bring their furry companions to work.

4. Ensure Your Space Is Pet-Safe

Pet-proofing is crucial! Make the office a safe, comfortable space for both employees and their pets. Food platters within reach, open trash bins, and snaking cables are recipes for disaster. Two simple ways to ensure your space is safe for dogs is to keep cords under desks and lids on trash bins.

You can check this review of the best dog proof trash cans at My Pet Needs That

5. Establish a Supervision Team

As lovable as dogs are, allowing dogs to roam an office can certainly lead to mishaps, which is why it is important that an office’s dog-friendly program has some oversight. A supervision team ensures people look after their dogs, while collecting feedback about potential issues. This helps to make an office’s pet experience as seamless as possible.

So, how much work is required to have dogs in the office? A lot, but the payoff is worth it. With these tips, your office will be equipped for pet success, ultimately boosting employee happiness, health and productivity.

Whitney Nielsen is a contributor to Grit Daily and a workplace strategist who looks to develop the work environment as a key business resource that supports the client’s needs. She collects qualitative and quantitative data to measure and analyze the environment, and uses this knowledge gained to make recommendations and resolve design and occupancy planning issues. A former designer, Whitney utilizes her design experience to integrate the physical, digital, and social realms of an office into a cohesive, high-functioning system. Whitney prioritizes the health and wellness of people in the workplace, and is a WELL AP, a RESET AP, a LEED AP, as well as a Fitwel Ambassador at M Moser Associates.

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