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The concept of bringing your dog to work is a growing movement that has many natural pros and cons. These apply to the workplace, the owner, and the canines themselves. Some are obvious while others take a bit of consideration.
If you work at a company that allows or is considering allowing dogs to accompany their owners to the office on a daily basis, here are a few of the main things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Pro: Attracting Better Talent
The modern workplace is experiencing an unprecedented race for talent. As skill gaps and deficiencies in the workforce put a premium on quality workers, even the smallest perks and bonuses can have a significant effect on a business’s ability to attract and retain quality talent.
What does this have to do with dogs, you say? Well, if a potential employee who happens to be a canine enthusiast knows that they won’t have to leave their dog home all day or pay for a dog walker or sitter on a regular basis, they’re much more likely to consider working at your company.
Con: Legal Concerns
Having animals at work is a natural invitation for legal complications. The stereotypical example of what could go wrong is the simple, rather common occurrence of a dog biting someone. Even the calmest, sweetest dogs can have a moment where that animalistic, protective attitude simply takes over.
If this happens to take place when your imposing coworker is recklessly reaching down to say hi in a boisterous manner that scares your pup, you can’t simply blame their ignorance or lack of tact. While workers comp may pay for any medical expenses, the need to dish out insurance money because a dog was in the office doesn’t translate into a net positive.
Pro: Creating a Postive Workplace Environment
In one study, between 75% and 95% of participants agreed that a pro-pet policy at work improved:
- Workplace morale.
- Relationships between coworkers.
- Work-life balance.
With so many factors being positively impacted, it’s no wonder the pets in the workplace phenomenon is quickly growing in popularity. Negative workplace environments can be crippling to a workforce, after all. If the solution is simply letting your four-legged friends in to laze by your side as you happily work, that’s about as easy an answer as upper management can find to remedy the poor workplace morale epidemic crippling the modern workforce.
Con: Distractions, Distractions, Distr— What Was That?
Dogs are cute. Dogs are happy. Dogs are wonderful — and, make no mistake, they’re also distracting. If dogs are allowed to infiltrate a workplace, it must be assumed that they will cause distractions from time to time. Whether they’re barking, whining, or just staring at you with those doleful puppy eyes, if dogs are in the workplace, they’re going to be distracting from time to time.
Pro: Improving Retention
Along with helping create a better work environment, dogs can directly help employees on a deeply personal level. Burnout is a serious threat to the modern workforce — in fact, it’s estimated that stress leads to nearly a 50% increase in voluntary turnover rates.
While there is always that handful of employees that will quit over the presence of an animal in their workspace, the overwhelming majority of people will emotionally benefit from the natural pet therapy element of having dogs around as they work. This positive effect can, in turn, translate into better feelings about their employment, which can decrease voluntary turnover and help keep employees happier and healthier as they labor.
Con: Acting Like an Animal
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a dog acting like an animal — they literally are animals, after all — animalistic behavior can be an issue in the professional concrete jungle. If an animal scratches, chews on, or otherwise damages office equipment, it can lead to expensive replacements, whether it’s the leg of a desk or an entire carpet.
In addition to the potential to damage company property, animals may also act out towards one another. If two pets get in a fight, it can lead to endless repercussions including more legal concerns and even serious harm or possibly even the death of an animal.
Bringing Your Dog to Work
There are numerous pros and cons associated with pets, especially dogs, in the workplace. To recap, a few of the pros include:
- Attracting talent.
- Discouraging voluntary turnover.
- Creating a positive workplace environment.
On the other hand, a few of the cons also include:
- Health and legal repercussions for animals that misbehave.
- Distractions caused by animals at work.
- Animalistic behavior leading to damaged property or inter-animal conflict.
While there are plenty of reasons for and against a bring your dog to work policy as a whole, often the decision must ultimately be made on a case by case basis. This starts with each business considering the feasibility of allowing dogs on the premise.
However, it also extends to each owner. Can your animal handle themselves in a professional setting? Will they benefit from it? Are they properly trained? At the end of the day, it’s up to you, the owner, to decide whether or not having your dog at work will be a help or a hindrance to yourself, your four-legged friend, and those who will be working around you.