In the past few years something big has changed: the amount of time we spend with our pets. And we’re not willing to give it up. In a recent survey, 71% of respondents said they’d benefit from a pet-friendly workplace and 7 in 10 said they would take a pay cut if it meant they could bring their pet to work.
So you’ve got a choice to make: change up your stance on pets in the office or lose some great talent. Besides retention, pets in the office can enhance morale, boost productivity, lower stress, and encourage camaraderie amongst your team. What’s not to love?
Here are a few steps to create a welcoming, pet-friendly environment.
Step 1: Consider your space
First thing’s first: make sure your building allows pets. Most do these days, but it’s best to cover your bases. Once you’ve got that under control, you can survey your office space for perfect pet perches.
Set up areas that are pet-friendly, and those that aren’t (like the kitchen). You can pick up some baby gates to help define areas if you don’t want pets roaming freely. And if you’re not close to a park, make sure there’s somewhere accessible outdoors for the pets to relieve themselves. If you’re welcoming cats, you’ll need a discreet spot for their litter box.
Step 2: Get it in writing
Create a policy and circulate it widely. You’ll want to outline when employees can bring in their pets, how many pets can be in the office at one time, and what rules the pets (and their owners will have to follow).
This can include everything from mandatory vaccinations to liability for damage to on/off leash allowances, depending on what breeds you’ll be welcoming into your space. Either way, you’ll want pet owners to be responsible for their animals at all times in your shared space.
Step 3: Get buy-in
Make sure everyone on your team is onboard. Some people may have allergies to certain pets or may be afraid of them. You’ll need to figure out a way to accommodate them while allowing pets into your space. If you’re in a one-room open-concept office with four desks, this might not be possible. But you can always work with your team to figure out how to make everyone comfortable.
Step 4: Make introductions
It might be super tempting to open your doors to everyone’s pets all at once, but we urge caution. Depending on temperament, you’ll want your team to do introductory hours that allow their pets to get to know the space – and the team to get to know the pet. Once they’re comfortable, they can come for as long as your policy allows.
If your office will be welcoming more than one pet, it’s a good idea to get the owners to introduce the pets to each other. Whether that’s in a closed-door office or a convenient park, it’s better to have a controlled introduction than an accidental run-in at the watercooler.
Step 5: Stock up
Keep your office stocked with all the pet supplies you’ll need. Treat? Yes please! Extra cleaning supplies? Definitely. Air freshener? 100%. You can also look into stocking poop bags and litter, so pet parents are never left empty handed.
With pets comes mess, but with a few essentials on hand it’ll be smooth sailing.
And, finally, have fun.
Pets bring so much joy to an office space, so get into it! You might worry that some pets might give into the zoomies and take off around your space, but pets typically get used to their space pretty quickly and end up relaxing comfortably near their parent’s desk.
That doesn’t mean a cuddle or a paw are off limits. Just check in with the pet parent before reaching into their pet’s personal space.
Making your office pet-friendly is just one way to be inclusive of pet parents. If you’re looking for more opportunities to add pet-friendliness to your employer branding as part of your National Pet Day Off pledge, check out Vetster for Work. It benefits coverage for pets with access to Vetsters thousands of top-rated veterinarians!
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