It’s been a long pandemic, everybody — and now it’s time to head back into the office for many of us. But for those of us with pets, that poses a bit of a problem. We’ve grown accustomed to being at home with our critters. Leaving them? Not a fun idea. They’ve become even closer companions and work partners. And research says it’s been good for us, too. A recent Vetster poll shows that 48% of employees agree having their pets around has increased their work productivity.
We think there’s a simple solution: bring your pet to work! To do it right, though, you’ll want to follow some important steps.
Step 1: Talk to your boss and coworkers
Here’s the thing. While you may want to bring your best bud to work, you really only should if it’s both safe and allowed. Talk to your boss first to see if you even can bring your pet in. And don’t be afraid to negotiate — you may be able to convince them. If you do, they’ll need to create a policy and make the office pet-friendly.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead from the higher ups, check in with your coworkers. If someone sitting near you has a severe allergy to pet dander, feathers, hamster bedding, or another integral part to your pet’s survival, it might not work out. Have that conversation now to avoid any problems later.
Step 2: Have a training refresher
So, you’ve got the approval from the bosses and your coworkers — great news! Before you bring Fido or Fluffy in, though, make sure you know they’ll be well-behaved. Have a training reminder session (either on your own, with a Vetster veterinarian, or with a licensed trainer) first. You’ll want to make sure your pet stays close to you, won’t jump on people, refrains from flying (or zooming!) around the office, and won’t distract everyone with their happy barks, chirps, or meows. And also make sure they’re housebroken. Keeping the office clean is part of your responsibility, after all.
Step 3: Start a workday routine at home
Most pets thrive with a routine. It gives them some structure and makes them feel safer wherever they are. Before you bring your pet to the office, figure out how your typical day goes, and then work on a schedule for your pet. Think about things like when they’ll need to eat, when you can take them for walks (try for every few hours to avoid any accidents), when they’ll be around other people, things like that. And then start going through the motions at home as much as you can. That way they’ll already have a headstart on the routine when you head into the office.
Step 4: Plan a meet and greet
No one — people or pets — likes to be thrown into a situation unexpectedly where they don’t know anyone and are unfamiliar with the environment. If you can, prior to bringing your pet into the office, plan a quick meet and greet. Bring them by for an hour or two and show them around the office, introduce them to people, and let them greet any other pets that may be there. This can be handled off-site as well. That way, once you start bringing them to the office regularly and for longer periods of time, they’ll already be familiar with the space and its creatures.
Step 5: Make a safe pet space at your desk
You want your pet to feel as comfortable as possible at the office, for theirs and everyone’s sake. So bring some things from home: a blanket, a bed, a few toys they really love. Put them all in an accessible and safe area, like under your desk away from any cords. Your pet will most likely spend the majority of their time in that spot — though be aware that they might seek out a sunny spot (or a more fun pal) somewhere else in the office. Just be sure you know where they are at all times.
Step 6: Don’t forget the treats and a leash!
Every good pet deserves treats, and yours definitely will. Make sure to bring some with you so you can reward them for good behavior. You can also have coworkers give them treats when they first meet. And remember to bring a leash! You’ll need it for regular walks, getting to and from the office safely, and sometimes keeping your pet away from anyone with an allergy or a fear.
Bringing your pets to the office can be great — for productivity, health, and overall mood. And if you make sure you do it right, it'll be a great, long lasting arrangement for you and everyone involved. Plus, once your office’s pet program is firmly established, you can try suggesting Vetster for Work, a benefits program providing coverage for your pets.
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