Studies have shown that allowing pets in the workplace can lower stress levels, break the ice and increase job satisfaction. But, before you start allowing employees to bring their pets to work, it’s important to set a pets at work policy and make sure everyone (including employees who don’t have pets), are on board with it.
My coworker has a four-year-old Husky that still doesn’t know how doors work. When you open the door to let him out, he runs behind it and tries to go through the cracks by the hinges. He’ll stand there barking and whining at you like “Lady, don’t underestimate me. You know I can fit through here, just do something!”
Another coworker has a bloodhound that likes to play fetch with her squeaky toy. She just nudges it, until you attempt to throw it. The same dog would then meticulously ‘bury’ this toy under the carpet with her paws and nose.
I work at a pet-friendly workplace, however, not all furry or feathered animals are suitable for the workplace. Even the most docile animals require and supervision. When their presence become counterproductive, it’s high-time craft a formal policy to protect ourselves from liability.
Here’s a checklist to get started:
- Executive support to create a pet-friendly workplace
- Check with your building’s landlord whether a building policy prohibits pets
- Create a finely-tuned pet policy
- An orientation with all employees over the pets at work policy
Pet-friendly policies vary from company to company, however, most include basic components:
The pet policy must restrict permissible pets to “dogs only,” “dogs and cats only,” “dogs and fish only,” etc. A vaguely worded policy will allow employees to bring any pet to work. (Gerbils, rabbits, birds, reptiles, mice, monkeys, etc.) However, this policy could trigger complaints by owners of prohibited pets.
According to ABC News, 15 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to dogs or cats. You need to ensure that you are also accommodating people with allergies, or those who are afraid of animals or not comfortable around animals. The best way around this is to see if you can provide alternatives for employees with allergies:
- Create pet-free floors or zones such as cafeterias, conference rooms, and restrooms.
- Accommodate medical need to employees. Ask the doctor to provide useful prescriptions or tips on managing the allergies.
To decrease the likelihood of triggering allergic reactions or experiencing other ‘unpleasant’ incidents, prohibit pets to be taken into areas such as pantries/kitchen areas, restrooms, conference rooms, cafeterias, locker rooms, customer-access areas, or into other employees’ offices. Additionally, ensure that pets be kept on a leash or restricted to an office, cubicle, or pet create.
LEASH & TEMPERAMENT
Require all pets be kept on a leash at all times unless it’s “Puppy Fight Time.” You may allow to unleash the pets and let them frolic! You also need to ensure that your pet isn’t sleeping in a clear passageway, which might conceivably create a safety violation.
Moreover, you must make sure the pet (dog, in this case) is trained to obey its owner in the office environment around other pets.
Require all pet owners to provide a medical history for Rabies, Distemper-Adenovirus-Parvovirus, and Bordetella. To reduce the liability of having pets at work, owners must provide documentation that the pet is splayed/neutered and up-to-date on all other vaccinations.
Additionally, flea and tick control should also be considered.
Require employees to clean up after their pets in and around the office and properly dispose of them. Stay well-stocked with cleaning supplies, including stain and odor remover, paper towels, disinfecting spray, and a mop and bucket. You might also want to invest in a vacuum, lint roller, and a Swiffer. Also, provide biodegradable dog waste bags along with a designated place to dispose of them in a trash receptacle.
Lastly, enforce a disciplinary mechanism for employees who fail to abide by the pets at work policy.
Does your company allow pets at work? Leave a comment with your anecdote or advice below.