How to make an office that is pet-friendly and that everyone can endure
Bringing pets to work is one of the numerous bonuses employers are offering employees who are returning to work after a two-year hiatus.
Many readers commented on the dos and don'ts of such a bonus. Admitting your office pet can be difficult. Bringing furry buddies to work can reduce stress, increase socializing, and provide delight. Readers noted that the experience can be unpleasant for some.
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So, what is the proper practice for organizations offering the bonus to returning employees? Experts advise business executives to take efforts to avoid causing workplace strife by allowing pets. Those who have accepted pets in the office advise continual communication.
Sarah Lowery, head of culture and facilities at San Francisco-based software startup Sendoso, said it's a continuous conversation. “We try to express to everyone that if anything makes you uncomfortable, let us know.”
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Purina and Rover say they've learned a lot over the years, both in developing pet friendly offices and evaluating best practices. Here are their recommendations for companies considering switching.
Before making the leap, executives should gauge employee interest and reservations about a pet-friendly office. An anonymous poll may allow employees to freely express themselves. In a statement from Rover's senior director of brand marketing, Kate Jaffe, Talking to employees will help you find a good space.
In some buildings, pets are not allowed, which may affect your workplace policies. Purina's chief veterinary officer, Kurt Venator, says tenants can occasionally work with landlords to make offices pet-friendly. Then explain how you will limit risk, he said. Sharing best practices and recommendations can help.
Clear guidelines: Experts say that when adopting new pet laws, setting expectations is critical. For example, should pets be allowed in the kitchen? Is it possible for allergy sufferers to work? For example, Rover worked with its landlord to make one of its elevators pet-friendly, allowing employees and guests to avoid sharing it with a pet.
Experts advise offices to explore gating pet sections, such as a pet owner's cube, a set of cubes, or simple roaming or play areas for pets. This lets other staff know where they can expect to see a pet.
Recognize outside places for pets: Pets will require a place to go potty, if not to run around or Purina's Venator advises leaders to design out safe walking routes for pet owners and surrounding greenspaces. If there isn't an outside space for canines to run about and burn off excess energy, Jaffe suggests an indoor dog playhouse.
In addition to consenting to the office criteria, pet owners should also ensure that all vaccines are up to date and that their pets satisfy a minimum age requirement. It could read, ‘I am responsible for cleanup and will report accidents,' Venator said. Most issues are solved if you sign a pet pledge. Signed documents reduce liability.
Expect messes: Even with your best efforts, a pet-friendly office may become untidy. Jaffe advises offices to have cleaning products like carpet cleaners, disinfectants, and poop bags on hand.
A well-designed pet-friendly workspace should be both safe and welcoming to pets. That means businesses should consider closing off harmful locations for pets and providing clean water, food, and rest spots. Rover colors dog tags to help staff understand their temperament. Purina's Venator advises dog owners to bring their pets to work when it is less congested and coworkers are informed to help ease the transition.
Accepting complaints: In pet-friendly workplaces, employees should feel empowered to express comments or complaints, Jaffe says. Companies should train employees on how to accomplish this and have someone on the other end to handle difficulties.
Be flexible: Above all, pet-friendly offices should be flexible in their policies. Experts say adequate planning can alleviate much of the load. “It may seem scary, but with careful planning, it may go incredibly well, Venator added.