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Why you need to encourage pets at work

Monty Majeed
10th Jan 2017
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Most pet owners admit to feeling like parents who leave their children back at home while at work. But the difference is that unlike for children, oftentimes there are no sitters for your pets and they spend long dreary days at home alone. Some startups over the world have started making it a bit easier on pet owners by allowing them to get their pets, especially dogs, to work. Companies like Nestle and Google have well drawn-out pet policies in place, which requires you to register your dog with the HR, who conducts a check on how suitable your pet will be to the workplace and others present there. Even a few Indian startups have followed suit with companies like Chumbak, InMobi, Pagalguy, and UrbanClap allowing their employees to bring their furry friends to work.

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Bringing pets to work not just boosts your employees’ morale and attracts millennial talent, but can also lower their stress levels, keep them healthier, and improve their productivity. Don’t believe us? Here’s how having a pet-friendly workplace can work wonders for your organisation:

It decreases stress

According to a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, employees who brought their dogs to work were found to produce lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The study was conducted at a workplace that saw at least 20 to 30 dogs on its premises on any given working day. Research found that through the day, stress levels of employees who brought their dogs to work fell about 11 percent, while that of those who didn’t increased by 70 percent. This can also translate into more focused work and improved productivity.

It reduces blood pressure and decreases the risk for heart disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that being with pets can assure you of a healthy heart. Research conducted on 240 married couples found that pet owners had lower incidence of heart-related disorders and lower blood pressure, both when at rest and when undergoing stressful tasks. This is proof enough that having your dog around while being engaged in stressful office work can keep you calmer and more sorted. It will, in turn, also have a positive effect on employee absenteeism.

It improves trust among co-workers

Working in a group with a dog present promotes team cohesion and trust among team members, reports a study conducted by Central Michigan University. Individuals were divided into groups of four, some along with dogs and some without, and each group member was charged with a fake crime. The study found that members of groups with dogs were 30 percent less likely to report each other as compared to groups without dogs. A follow-up study found that these team members rated each other better on counts of intimacy, team cohesion, and trust than the rest of the groups.

It makes you more social

An office is a collaborative environment and the best results come out of consistent and creative teamwork. Studies have time and again proven that having dogs or other pets has a huge impact on the owner’s physical and psychological well-being. Placing them in a work environment only furthers this, found a study conducted by the British Psychological Society. The study found that dogs are great social catalysts, making it easier to communicate with others and work better with your peers.

Now that we know why it works to have a pet dog or let employees bring their pets to work, here’s what to keep in mind while framing a good pet policy:

Check for suitability: Maybe the majority of workers in your office love animals, but what about that sole person who is allergic to furry beings? Take all such allergies and discomforts into account, as you need to strike a balance between the needs and demands of all your employees. Also, check for building rules and get permissions from the required bodies before you actually bring in your pets.

Create an induction process: This need not be elaborate, but it is mandatory if you want to ensure a happy and safe work environment. Make it known if only certain animals can be brought in. For instance, Google allows dogs at their offices, but not cats. Make it compulsory for pet owners to register their pets, get their health check-ups done, and allow only trained pets into your workplace. You could take a cue from the well-laid out pet policies of bigger companies for inspiration.

Get your office ready: Pet-proof your office. If you are creating a designated area for pets, get them ready with toys and food. Attach pet gates and remove poisonous indoor plants and hazardous electrical fittings that may be harmful for your pets.

Ultimately, both your employees and their pets should be able to enjoy a happy and calm workday. Only then will your organisation be able to reap the benefits of having our four-legged friends around. Does your startup have a pet-friendly workplace? Let us know more about your pet policies and ideas in the comments section below.

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