Pet-friendly is a phrase only recently used to describe an office environment. I mean 'work' used to mean 'work.' You didn't even think of bringing your pets with you to work!
Well, Trupanion, a leading health insurance provider for pets, recently completed a survey of 1,250 respondents from across the U.S. and Canada about the influence of dogs and cats on our workplace, homes, relationships, activities and purchasing behaviors. Twenty-four percent of respondents reported working for pet-friendly companies. Pet-friendly might mean that companies allow employees to bring pets to work daily or once a week or once a month, but pets are allowed in the offices!
The pet-friendly office is clearly influenced by the older (26 to 36) millennials entry into the workforce. These workers have reported very high attachment to their pets, especially when it comes to being separated from them. A recent survey by Zulily found that the worst part of going to work reported by millennials is missing their pets. Included in the Zulily report were these revealing findings:
- 65 percent of millennials would find it more stressful to be without their pets for a week than their cell phones!
- 71 percent of millennials would take a pay cut if they could bring their pets to work every day.
- How much of a reduction in pay would they take? 21 percent of the millennials questioned would accept upwards of 20 percent less pay if every day was "Take Your Pet To Work Day."
So to attract this new work force, can you make your own office more pet friendly? Each office is different, of course, but you can begin to explore ways in which you could, perhaps, have a 'take your pet to work day.'
First you will need to check with your management to see if it would support a pet-friendly environment and, if so, what concerns there might be. If you get permission to propose a plan (don't forget to check your company's lease to make sure pets are allowed in the building), get together with your co-workers to develop one. Go slowly; the simpler the first attempts are, the more likely they will succeed, and later you can expand them.
- You will have to design a program based on the type of work you do and the logistics of your office. Logistics are just as important, sometimes more important, than the type of work you do. For example, I can't imagine pets being allowed in a busy news room. (But if you know of any, please let us know in the comments section below!)
- What kinds of pets will be permitted to come? Just dogs? Dogs and cats? Birds? Each of these pets will need to have specific guidelines for participating (for example, will owners need to bring a litter box for their cats? a cage for birds? leashes for dogs?)
- Will pets be permitted to roam free or be kept within the owner's office space?
- Will there be employee restrictions on time spent walking, feeding, playing with pets?
- Will pets be allowed at meetings?
- Are there employees (or clients!) who might reject the idea of pets in the office? What about employees with pet allergies?
- Get ideas from other companies that allow pets.
The above is not an exhaustive list of considerations, but it will get you started. Do check into the Purina program for a PetsatWork tool kit! It will give you some good ideas for how to incorporate your pets into your workplace.
Once you come up with a plan, present it to management for acceptance or modifications. It's hard to break tradition, so take small steps. It can work, but remember the saying that's as old as Rome itself: "Rome wasn't built in a day."
'Bring Your Pet To Work Day' is on Friday, June 22, 2018.
Here are some recent articles that can inform your approaches: