The Benefits and Challenges of Having Pets in the Workplace

Article By Jackie Brown

A greater number of workplaces are opening their doors to furry or fluffy paw-sonel. In fact, at least seven per cent of businesses now allow pets in the workplace according to a recent survey. A variety of pets qualify to be brought to work, but, by far, the most common are dogs. As you know from reading other articles on this site, here at PupLife we believe in treating your dog as part of the family. If they are well-behaved, there is no reason to leave them home alone all day waiting for you.

Bringing pets to your workplace has a number of amazing benefits; however, it comes with some drawbacks as well. In the rest of this article, we outline both the pros and cons of having pets in the workplace. Whether you are a dog owner looking to bring your pet to work or a business owner considering a change to your pet policy, this article has all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Dog In The Workplace
“Do these glasses make me look intelligent?” Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Benefits of pets in the workplace

Let’s begin by listing the many benefits that having pets in the workplace provides. Most of the benefits listed here have been proven by numerous scientific studies.

1) Reduced stress
Numerous scientific studies have shown a decrease in stress when pets are brought into the workplace. For example, a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that employees that brought their pets to work experienced declining stress levels as the day progressed. The researchers’ findings indicate that dogs, in particular, in the workplace help reduce employee stress levels. However, this was only true for those who own pets. Conversely, those who didn’t own a dog or a pet experienced rising stress levels. Is your workplace majority pet owners or non pet owners? This is something you will need to consider.

When employees are under less stress, there will likely be fewer arguments. A person’s immune system will also remain functioning optimally, which decreases the number of sick days they need to use. In all, pets, especially dogs, make the workplace a much more positive environment for employees who love or own pets.

2) Reduced blood pressure
Along with the reduction in stress is the reduction of blood pressure when pets are present in the office. This correlation should not surprise anyone. There is a well-documented link between blood pressure and stress. Reduced blood pressure lowers the risk of heart disease. You could even go as far as to say that owners bringing their dog to work improves their health.

3) Greater productivity
Pet owners will likely take breaks to walk and interact with their dogs. However, studies have found that these breaks do not decrease productivity. In fact, they increase it.

The link between productivity, stress, and pets in the workplace makes sense. When employees are less stressed their productivity rises. Pets reduce stress, and so, therefore, it follows that they would raise productivity. The social support that pets in the workplace engender also raises productivity. Pets can trigger new interactions that create greater communication and problem-solving ability, both important aspects of a productive environment.

4) Better social interactions
Pets require interaction and movement. Dogs, especially, need to be walked regularly during the workday. If multiple people in an office have dogs, walks are a great place to socialize. Increased socialization among employees leads to greater morale and a better work environment overall.

As an added bonus for businesses, a more positive and supportive work environment has been linked to greater employee retention. A 2017 study found that turnover costs $15,000 per US worker. Similarly, in the UK, data reveals that the average employee costs SMEs £12,000 to replace. No matter the size of your business or where it’s located, it is important to keep your workforce happy and improve employee retention. Allowing pets in the workplace can be an easy way to make your business more attractive and successful.

Challenges of pets in the workplace

Having your pet in the workplace is not all rainbows and sunshine, unfortunately. While, yes, there are amazing benefits, there are some drawbacks as well. Make sure to consider these cons carefully before bringing your faithful dog to the next work event.

1) Mess!
Pets can be messy. If dogs are bored, they tend to get destructive. Similarly, cats with claws can scratch up the furniture. Additionally, even if the pet is potty trained, accidents happen - especially in a new environment. All pets, no matter how well trained, old, or well-behaved they are will make a mess at some point. In order for pets in the workplace to be a success, accommodations and plans must be in place for the inevitable mess. For example, a puppy playpen is essentially if employees are bringing in little pups, or dog beds for older pooches.

2) Greater risk of allergies
Some unfortunate people are allergic to pets. There is medication available for pet allergies; however, some people may not want to incur the costs of the medication or constant sneezing just so you can bring your pet to work.

Approximately 10% of all Americans have pet allergies. It is likely that someone you work with has a pet allergy. If you work in a large company or building, the likelihood only increases. Before allowing pets without restrictions, business owners should consult with their team.

3) Greater risk of distraction
Even though they can increase productivity, pets can be a distraction. Bored pets, especially, can be destructive and loud. When bringing a dog to the workplace remember interactive toys. If you choose the correct toy, your pet can be distracted for hours.

Business owners will need to weigh the potential for distractions against the benefits mentioned above. If all of your employees need to be on-task all day, especially in the beginning, pets in the workplace may not be the right choice.

Cat In The Workplace
"Here’s that report you were after, Roger." Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Allowing pets into the workplace can create some amazing results. From better employee morale to a high level of productivity, there are a lot of benefits of bringing your pet to work. However, you don’t just receive benefits when pets come into the office. There are a few drawbacks to consider before you decide to bring your pet to work or change your pet policy.

The best way to approach this decision is to talk with your team and do your research before allowing pets into the workplace. The more you know the pros and cons, the better prepared you will be to deal with the consequences of your decision. We think you’ll love having the furry bundles of joy around!