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With millions working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we’ve since seen a slew of reports informing us that this recent forced period of working from home, has meant many of us have embraced this opportunity to become new pet owners. Anyone who previously felt like they perhaps couldn’t adopt an animal because they were at work all day, has since found they’re at home and perhaps seeking some companionship in lieu of seeing their co-workers in the office everyday.
One in five Londoners’ have adopted a pet in the last 12 months, while in the US some shelters and rescue groups are seeing double the typical number of requests from people to adopt dogs since the pandemic hit.
Having an animal for companionship during such trying times has been a solace for many. But now with restrictions easing as everyone’s journey back into the workplace is starting to take shape – will we be seeing a more dog friendly return to the office?
As part of our on-going commitment to keeping you informed on the changing ways of work post pandemic, we’ve taken a closer look at the benefits and practicalities of creating a more dog friendly workplace.
The benefits of dogs in the workplace
Not only are our pets’ great company to have around, they also have proven to bring huge benefits to mental wellbeing. Now more than ever, we know that the companionship and joy pets can bring to people’s lives shouldn’t be under-estimated.
Dogs have been found to alleviate stress and anxiety and bringing them into the workplace has been shown to promote a positive work-life balance. Dogs have the ability to create a calming atmosphere which consequently could contribute to improving your employees’ wellbeing and productivity at work.
From a social perspective, having dogs in your workplace can become a great conversation starter, often helping to breakdown communication barriers. Research has shown that dogs promote social interactions between staff, resulting in improved collaborations and making them a particularly pertinent addition to the office post-pandemic, to aid with bringing your staff back together after long periods of social isolation.
Prior to the pandemic a number of companies including big corporates such as Google and challenger bank Monzo have joined others in the pet sector and allow employees to bring their pets to work. However around 64% of workplaces don’t have adequate policies in place to support pets joining their teams.
Dogs in the workplace policies
There are some important first steps that any employer should take when investigating whether or not to introduce dogs into the workplace.
It is important to develop a list of criteria for dogs being allowed into your office, and if you already did allow dogs in the office pre-pandemic, you may also need to consider policies have had to be updated to align with extra guidelines that have come as a consequence of COVID-19. While owners previously should have had to provide proof that their pets were trained and vaccinated, additionally they’ll also need to prove a certification from a vet, use leads and regularly wash hands after handling pets.
From a human resources perspective most recommend first finding out what percentage of your workforce is ok with having dogs at work, and then running a dogs at work trial, on a smaller scale first to identify unforeseen issues.
Creating a dog-friendly workplace
For some businesses, dogs in the workplace may not be appropriate, but for those willing to give it a go, in addition to human resources and human health considerations, there a number of workplace design considerations to bear in mind.
Avoiding carpets is a good place to start, instead opt for hard surfaces that are easy to wipe clean. It is recommended to have a designated space for dogs to refrain from employees being distracted which could result in a lack of productivity. Another option is to block out a meeting room or focus spaces to ensure there are plenty of areas available to escape from any noise or distraction.
If you want to avoid dogs being able to roam freely around the building, installations can be fitted to most desks to ensure dogs are kept in specific areas of the workplace. For example, metal hoops on desks to attach their leads or installing cubicle gates are just a few examples of ways to ensure pets can be kept in a contained area so they can be kept a close eye on.
The use of natural colours and artificial grass allows dogs to feel calmer which might help them feel more at home in the new environment and as a result, workers will feel more at ease.
The growth in pet ownership over the past 12 months, and the pre-pandemic rise in dog-friendly offices reflects a more permanent shift in attitudes where dogs at work are for many becoming a valued addition for their ability to improve the happiness, productivity and collaboration of staff.
Want to know how you can adapt your workplace to house dogs? Get in touch with one of our dog loving designers to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org