Feb 20 2013

Pets in the Office; the New Casual Friday

In today’s dog-eat-dog world, office managers are always looking for ways to improve their employees’ performance. One new trend taking place nationwide does just that by injecting a little fun into the workplace – and to do it, they’re making “bring your pet to work” an everyday thing.

It’s just another day in the office for everyone at Chapin Hill Advisors, Inc., a financial planning and investment advisory firm in New York City.

The industry this firm belongs to has a markedly stodgy tradition. To break free of the stress that can boil over with the market, company managers decided to allow pets in the office.

“When I’m having a stressful day and the market is going haywire, and I’m like, ‘What am I doing?’ I just pet one of (the pets) and they automatically make me feel calm,” said Kathy Boyle, CHA founder and president.

According to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), 100 percent of U.S. companies they found that allowed pets, agreed that animals make the office environment more relaxing.

“Having an animal in the office brings a sense of joy, it brings a sense of fun,” said Boyle. “We work very hard and long hours, and being able to lighten it up is watching Paco run down the hallway chasing his ball. It brings a sense of joy, humanness and kindness.”

But it’s not all ball chasing and belly rubs, because having pets in the office can be complicated.

“You have an issue if you bring a cat; the dog is going to chase the cat.” Boyle said, “Dogs are the most ideal to bring to a firm like (CHA). But you will have rivalries and territories. You also have some issues about liabilities, employees getting in the middle of two dogs fighting.”

Those issues don’t compare to the work-life balance having a pet in the office can bring. Boyle said that she’s had a number of dogs who contracted cancer.

“If you know that they are down to the last few months you want to cherish and keep them closer to you, you want to see them more.” she said, “Where if you are working a million hours you wouldn’t see them in their last days.”

If your office wants to adopt pet friendly policies, Boyle says there are some rules to follow. She suggested that company considering this, ask:

“How big is your company going to be? It might be two of you and very casual and you each bring your dog but what if you get five more employees?”

She says setting a schedule for larger companies is key. You might want to allot each employee a day to bring their animal.

Being thoughtful about the issues is the only way to make the whole thing work, Boyle said. After all, not everyone has well behaved pets. You need to think about responsibility before hand, because with animals you never know what’s going to happen.

Some other things to think about:

  • Does anyone have allergies?
  • Establish “Off-limit pet zones.”
  • Make sure employees bring documents proving pets are vaccinated.
  • Tell employees to keep control of their animals at all times.
  • Make a rotating pet schedule.

If you put these rules in place, chances are you’ll have a pet-friendly workplace in no time.
Summer Valley Veterinary Clinic
Aurora Veterinary

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