For pet owners, having to leave their dog at home can be a real struggle. For those living in cities, the costs of daycare or dog walkers can start to add up, as well as the guilt of leaving your best friend at home all alone.
While it isn’t the norm yet, more offices are becoming pet inclusive, with most big cities having at least a couple of dog-friendly office spaces available. Studies have shown that allowing dogs into the workplace can help to calm employees, boost morale, and improve productivity. However, as the office manager, what rules should you consider before making a dog-friendly office policy? Creating a dog-friendly office should be a carefully thought-out decision. Regardless of whether it is a human or a pet, office etiquette should still be maintained. Before deciding, here are some things to consider for establishing a dog-friendly office policy.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, roughly 1/3 of all Americans have some form of a pet allergy. While these allergies can range from mild to severe, it must be taken into consideration if some of your employees have an allergy that interferes with their daily life. In fact, the ADA sometimes covers a pet allergy as a disability, so you could be liable for discrimination if you have dogs in your office. Before implementing this policy, you would have to ensure no existing or new members have an allergy to pets.
Even if everyone in the office is pet positive and there are no allergies to worry about, there’s still the matter of how many should be allowed in the office at one time. Say everyone in the office has a dog? Are people prepared to deal with several dogs roaming the office while trying to work? Consider limiting the number of pets that are allowed each day. You might want to have an online sign-up sheet, and once the specified number of dogs is there for the day, the office should be considered at capacity for pet companions.
It’s essential that the dogs coming into the office are toilet trained and dogs that are not friendly to other dogs or humans should probably be prohibited. Creating a few basic rules that all pet owners need to follow will create a fair environment for the employees as well as the pets. A busy office often has many people coming and going throughout the day on top of a strong possibility that their owners might occasionally need to leave them alone for important meetings and phone calls. Therefore, the dog must be well-behaved, not jump up on unsuspecting visitors, and not have any kind of severe separation anxiety. It’s understandable that dogs might get excited or anxious from time to time, especially dogs younger than 2 years old. However, if the dog does have any of the aforementioned behavioral problems, then perhaps you might want to create an area where dogs are allowed and won’t cause issues with any visitors or reconsider the dog policy.
The pet should be clean and potty trained, but accidents do happen. When managing a dog-friendly office, you don’t want to be responsible for cleaning up messes every day due to an untrained dog. Require that your members clean up immediately after their own pets to eliminate this issue.
Unfortunately, once one accident happens in an area, more accidents are likely to occur in that same location. Consider keeping a no-marking spray close at hand to avoid repeat accidents in the same spot. If there is a mess that has to be cleaned up by the cleaning crew, then the employee should be charged accordingly.
When you decide to make your coworking space dog-friendly, you need to consider the legal implications as well. Make sure that you put it in the terms and conditions of your member agreement. Go over the policy change with all employees and during the new hire orientation.
Before you allow the pets to enter the site, you might consider asking the pet parents to submit an application for their dog. The application should include the name, breed, weight, color, picture, proof of vaccinations, and updated vet records. Keeping all the pets, as well as humans, safe should be your priority.
A dog-friendly office policy is possible, but it requires a bit of extra work for the office manager to oversee this challenge and active teamwork from everyone affected by it. As the office manager, you might have to judge each pet on a case-by-case basis to make sure that the situation works for everyone involved. Having pets in the office can be a highly rewarding experience that bonds your employees. And with a well-managed pet policy, they can boost morale and productivity in the office.