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Can your office be pet-friendly?

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During COVID, we could spend hours at home with our pets while we worked. Many of us even adopted a new furry mate during this time! Now that many workplaces are asking for their colleagues to head back into the office, our furry friends are sadly left at home again without our warm companionship.

Well, fear not! There is a better way – and many offices have adopted this method to keep workers and pets happy!

“Now more than ever, pets are an integral part of our lives,” says Trish Ennis, CEO of Australia CAN. “With many companies continuing to have employees split their working week between home and the office, it’s no surprise people want to bring their pets to the workplace too.”

Research has shown that having pets in the workplace improves productivity and collaboration and alleviates stress. One study shows 90% of employees in pet friendly workplaces feel highly connected to their company’s mission; fully engaged with their work and willing to recommend their employer to others*.

Tips on how to make your office pet-friendly

Education, clear guidelines and fair ground rules can help make pets in the office work well for everyone.

You need to make sure everyone feels safe (including the pets), that you can avoid any chaos by providing strict rules and boundaries, and that there is always supervision for the pets.

Here are 8 tips for creating a harmonious, pet-friendly work environment.

Provide a safe and secure space

Firstly, it is worth providing gated or inaccessible areas to control a pet’s movement and give them a safe and secure place to roam. This will also suit those workers who are either allergic or don’t like pets to have a safe and comfortable animal-free space away from them to work.

Make sure your pet meets the rules of the office

Your pet needs to have all its vaccinations up to date, be house-trained, have good behaviour, and be able to tolerate other pets. It also needs to be free of fleas or ticks and generally clean and not smelly!

Think about the clean-up

Pets should be house-trained before entering the office; however, accidents happen! Create pet-friendly areas with easy-to-clean floors and have cleaning products on hand, such as urine removers, in case there’s a spill. Ensure all employees bringing a pet into the office agree to clean up after their own pet.

Provide a grassy patch outside for toilet breaks or litter boxes for cats

If you don’t have an easily accessible grassy area available for dogs to ‘do their business’, think about investing in a few portable fake grass ‘pet loos’ that collect pet waste and can be emptied. Also, make sure to have eco-friendly poo bags available.

For cats, remember that each cat needs at least one kitty litter tray. These will need to be regularly cleaned, so consider having a roster system between the pet owners for who will clean and replace them!

Consider buddying up with another employee pet parent to supervise your pets

Pets will need to be always supervised for their safety, the safety of the workers and the pets’ well-being. Find another worker with a similar pet to watch your pet when you need a bathroom break or have a meeting, and you can do the same for theirs.

Tidy any electrical cords and check for any other safety issues

Keep your desk tidy, with no cords dangling and no available food sitting out (waiting to be stolen by a hungry hound!). Crawl around the space on your hands and knees to check for anything that may attract or hurt pets at that level.

Supply your pet’s own bedding, food, treats, crates, leads etc

Not only will this provide comfort for the pet, knowing they have their own creature comforts available, but it will also ease pressure on the office, as they will not have to provide anything new for your pet.

Be respectful

Be mindful and respectful of each pet’s feelings and health needs. Some pets may not want to be cuddled during their first meet-and-greet, and others may have dietary restrictions that prevent them from having treats.

Also, be aware and respectful of colleagues who aren’t as comfortable around animals. It is a workplace, after all – not everyone will share in the joy of their new animal inhabitants. Make sure to stick to your workplace’s pet policies, rules of engagement and any prohibited areas.

Making your workplace pet-friendly has multiple benefits for employees. It’s been proven to reduce stress levels, enhance coping skills and lower blood pressure. It even allows non-pet owners to bond with animals they don’t have access to at home!

“As some companies struggle to persuade employees to spend more time working on site, implementing a pet-friendly policy might be the perfect solution for creating happier and more productive workplaces!” says Ms Ennis.

For more information on creating a pet-friendly workplace, download the Companion Animal Network’s Pets in Business Resources or contact us to receive your own personalised pet-friendly workplace kit!

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