Is it time to start bringing your dog to work?
This week the UK government ended their Plan B Covid restrictions in England, meaning that people who have been encouraged to work from home are now being sent back to the office once more and yet again our pets are facing time alone at home.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a surge in dog ownership in the UK, to around 12 million. During the lockdown many owners forged strong bonds with these pets because they were spending so much quality time at home together. Now, for those dogs who are not used to being left alone, the fact that their owners are returning to the workplace for a second time is sure to cause a return of old problems, such as separation anxiety or destructive behaviour.
A recent study revealed that 54% of employees had considering quitting their job if they couldn’t bring their dog to work and according to the National Pet College, employers are increasingly seeing the benefits of allowing employees to bring their dogs into the workplace.
Retriever photo by Apunto Group Agencia de publicidad on Pexels
The benefits of dogs in the workplace
There are clearly a lot of benefits to brining your dogs into work – both for you, your colleagues and your pet. It’s a good place for a lockdown puppy to start socialising with people and it means that they aren’t going to be left home alone for long periods of time. But having a dog around is great for humans too. Studies have shown that having a dog in the workplace can reduce stress levels and lower heart rates. Even simply stroking a dog can lower our blood pressure. They have also been proven to boost performance, enhance work-life balance and improve job satisfaction, as well as increasing positive social interactions amongst staff.
But of course, a dog in the workplace can cause problems too. Depending on the workplace it may cause health and safety issues. Not everyone likes dogs and it may make some employees feel uncomfortable – and of course it depends on the breed and temperament of dog too. You don’t want a pup that jumps up at customers or pees in the corner when no one is looking.
Dog in the office photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels
Do you think your boss might be open to allowing you to bring your dog to work? The National Pet College has created a ‘Dogs in the Workplace’ course to help employers and employees overcome any potential challenges and foster a dog-friendly culture.
They have some top tips of businesses who are considering becoming a dog-friendly space:
Assess the workspace
Is your office space suitable for a dog? Will it be easy for them to escape? Is there room for them to have a bed or crate to sit in? s there an appropriate outside area and disposal system in place for regular toilet breaks?
Is everyone OK with it?
Talk to the building owner, HR teams and department managers. Is this idea acceptable to everyone? Colleagues should be consulted and objections taken into account. Make sure that everyone is on board before you decide to go ahead, to avoid problems down the line.
Create a Code of Conduct
Conduct a risk assessment and ensure that everyone involved knows their responsibilities within the work environment - both team members and dog owners. For example flea and worm treatments should be kept up to date to protect colleagues and doors should be kept shut to protect dogs.
Dog-proof the workspace
Secure loose wires, keep food and water away from expensive equipment, use signage to alert visitors to the presence of dogs and the appropriate action to take.
Regular welfare checks
You might be delighted to bring your dog into work, but how does your dog feel about it? Will they cope with a lot of people or a busy work environment and loud noises? If they jump up every time the door opens or struggle to settle, then office life might not be for them. It could be good to try a probation period to ensure that it's working out for everyone involved.
Do you think your dog would like to come to work with you? It could be worth showing this article to your boss to get some feedback. But what about the other side of the coin – do cats want to come to work too? No, as it turns out…
Indoor cat photo by Alina Vilchenko on Pexels
Your cat wants you out of the house
According to Joanna Puzzo, feline welfare manager at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, your cat can’t wait for you to get back to work!
“Lots of focus since the pandemic began has been on dogs and how they would cope with things like separation anxiety once lockdown lifted and their owners went back to the office and socialising outside of the house.
“It was assumed that cats weren’t being as affected by the ever-changing external situation, but they certainly were – not only by the change of routine, which cats thrive on – but also having their owners around in the home a lot more.
“Cats are a solitary species by nature, so typically enjoy human interaction on their own terms and with full choice and control over those interactions.
“Domestic cats may want to interact with their owners several times a day, but for short periods of time that they can control.
“Having the constant companionship of their owners during the pandemic may have left some cats feeling as though they have lost part of their territory or have less control over when and for how long they receive a fuss.”
Ginger cat pretending to be asleep photo by Pixabay on Pexels
Some cats love a cuddle at any time of day but if you’ve noticed your cat is spending more time outdoors, hiding away or even pretending to be asleep to avoid you (no, really!) then they might be longing for you to get back to work so they can get back into their old routines. If you are still working from home, just make sure that you give them plenty of space and let them come to you. Make them a safe space to hide away and sleep and If they seem particularly anxious, try using a pheromone diffuser to help soothe their nerves if you have a full house.
Do you have an office pet or pets? Let us know in the comments section below!
Main photo by Thirdman on Pexels