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Why you should rethink a no-pet policy at the office

A woman working with a French bulldog.-(THINKSTOCK)

I used to have an extremely stressful job handling lots of money, receipts, paychecks and mind-numbing documents for a television show.Our office — filled surprisingly with very fun people — would often either be dead quiet in concentration or a chirping frenzy of buzzwords like “budget,” “purchase orders,” and “$3,000 leather jackets.”

Some days, I just had to get out.

But when I wasn’t delivering paychecks to actors on set or depositing stacks of cash (the likes of which I will never hold again), I’d escape to the art department.

Sure, it was because of the really fun people there, but there were also dogs.

And I am 100 percent certain that fact made everyone there less stressed than anyone else making this television show — despite being the most overworked department in the production office.  

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It made sense. We worked 12 to 16 hours a day. If we weren’t allowed to bring our dogs to work, pet owners who took on the project would either have to hire dog walkers (unfathomable on our salaries) or put their companion up for adoption (simply unfathomable). 

Which brings me to the subject of “open pet policies,” already in place at respected companies such as Etsy, Huffington Post, Amazon and Google.

It’s actually not such a new age thing meant just for millennials, but it is worthy of noting that 40 percent of millennials ages 18 to 29 are already dog owners.  

While there are tons of personal benefits to having a dog — companionship, stress reduction, better health — numerous studies have also suggested that being able to bring your dog to work is even good for your job.

Having a dog near you while you work can give you peace of mind, from not having to worry about what they’re doing while you’re not home to just having that therapeutic Zen one gets from patting a dog on the head.

This reduction of stress makes employees more productive, and also gives them the ability to work longer hours.

Additionally, studies have shown that businesses that have instituted open pet policies have actually reduced employee absenteeism and encouraged employees to interact with one another due to the commonality of having a dog.

Lastly, dogs in the office encourage exercise breaks and positive humor, both of which can improve overall morale.

So if the thought intrigues you as a business owner, here are some things to know before you go ahead and tell your enthusiastic employees they can bring their dog to work.

  • First, check with your lease to make sure animals are allowed in the office space.
  • Then, check with your employees to see if anyone has allergies or a fear of dogs. There are always ways to compromise — employees are already allowed to have service dogs, after all — but know that animal allergies may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, too. Consider where dogs will be kept and if all employees will be appeased by the policy.
  • You will then need to create written rules for the policy dictating what will happen if an animal is disruptive, aggressive or destructive. All dogs brought to the office should be expected to be house-trained, well-behaved and restrained in some manner when on company property.
  • Lastly, employees must provide updated veterinary records and proof of pet insurance that will cover any possibility of damage or injury caused by their pet. You may also want them to sign indemnification agreements requiring them to pay any potential costs resulting from lawsuits or damages.

It’s one of my goals in life to own a dog, and I’d like to adopt one sooner than later. I know that owning and caring for a dog would add a lot to my personal life, and it’d be wonderful if more businesses would consider the positive benefits of open pet policies. Usually, they’re win-win situations!

ALSO ON THE NJBIZ “MILLENNIAL MINDED” BLOG:


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