8 Considerations for Pets in the Workplace
Having a co-worker that drools on a regular basis, expects to be praised for the smallest accomplishment and uses “puppy eyes” to get what he wants may not sound like the ideal employee—but Chilly is no regular co-worker.
As my “canine co-worker” Chilly’s job description includes building company morale and productivity (he enthusiastically wags his tail providing positive feedback on all projects), reducing employee stress levels (a few minutes of petting goes a long way) and improving employee physical activity (Chilly gets me out in the fresh air at least twice a day).
According to a 2011-12 American Pet Products Manufacturers Association National Pet Owners Survey, three percent of U.S. pet owners can bring their pets to work with them. These days, more employers — including Amazon and Google and even Congress — are acknowledging the benefits of adopting pet-friendly policies.
Before you install that doggy door or scratching post for kitty, here are eight things to consider to ensure a safe, successful day at the office.
- Employee allergies or phobias. Check with management and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid of or opposed to you bringing your pet to work.
- Pet-proofing. Remove poisonous plants, hide electrical cords and wires and secure toxic items such as correction fluid or permanent markers that might make your pet sick. Remember to bring chew toys for your pooch or a scratching post for your cat so he or she doesn't decide to entertain themselves with your office furniture.
- Good pet hygiene. Bathe and groom your pet before his or her office debut and be sure his or her shots are up-to-date.
- Pack a doggie or kitty bag. Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags, pet-safe disinfectant (I keep BISSELL Pet Stain & Stink Remover handy, just in case) and something comfy for your pet to lounge on. If you are routinely in and out of your workspace, consider bringing a portable kennel or carrier for your pet’s comfort and your own peace of mind.
- Water and healthy snacks. Keep water and healthy treats on hand for your pet. To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given and remember that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared (click here for a list of pet-safe people food from my July article).
- Co-worker interaction. Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your pet. Pet lovers will make themselves known. Let them come to you and do not force your pet on people who may be trying to work or would rather admire Fluffy from a distance.
- Liability issues. As a matter of law, pet owners are legally responsible for any injury or damage caused by their pets. However, employers should check with their insurer to ensure that their general liability policy covers the event and specific guidelines should be in place for employees who plan to bring pets to the workplace.
- Regular bathroom breaks. Just like there is no "I" in "Team," there is no "Pee" in "Office." Your co-workers may think Spot is oh-so-adorable, but just wait and see how the friendliness wears off when there's a wet spot or an odorous present under their desks. If you bring your pet to work, remember to take care of his or her bathroom needs before you come in and at regular intervals throughout the day.