Should Your Business Have Office Pets?

  • HR Policies Documentation
Office Pets
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Are office pets beneficial for the workplace? In this guide we explain the benefits of keeping animals in the office and whether they're suitable for your business.

In the modern business world, you may have seen there’s a growing trend for office pets.

It’s not uncommon to walk into an office and face a greeting from an enthusiastic dog. There are arguments for and against an office pet. It's quite a controversial topic.

But it’s one a business policy can clear up, so all of your staff members are happy with the outcome. For this guide, we’re explaining the ins and outs of keeping an office pet.

The popularity of pets

First, why would any business want to keep a pet in the office? Well, you have to remember the enormous popularity of animals. And if they’re in the workplace, animals can encourage a more informal and relaxing working day.

Employees can, for instance, take time away from their desks to bond with the office dog. So, introducing a pet-friendly policy is an excellent way to promote a more effective work-life balance.

Gaining a staff morale boost

There are many advantages of having the likes of dogs at work. Here are a few of them:

  • Boost morale: Bringing a pet to work can improve the sense of a work-life balance. In turn, having animals present can reduce stress levels and improve employee productivity.
  • Win over younger generations: Millennials and Generation Z employees often look for businesses with fun perks. If there’s an office pet, or they can bring in theirs, it can attract them to work for you.
  • Improve employee bonding: An office pet is a conversation point and will help your employees to bond more effectively. It can help staff members break out of their comfort zones to interact with colleagues. This can, in the long-term, improve your staff relationships for greater productivity.

Your animal-friendly policy

Not all of your staff members might be enthusiastic for an office pet. Some, for example, may have an allergy or phobia. Keep in mind that there are good office pets and bad ones. Animals can disrupt your daily routine—so, choose carefully.

The best office pets add something of value to your daily routine, rather than limit productivity with disobedience or other disruptive behaviour. Dogs and cats are common choices as they’re often docile, friendly and you can train them.

But it’s not uncommon to find rodents or birds occupying office spaces. They are easier to maintain as you can keep them in a cage, limiting their movement about your office.

Further below, we'll cover a few more examples. You can follow the below guidelines before bringing an animal into your workplace:

  • Vaccinate your pet: It's important as your pet needs protection from potentially deadly diseases and infections. So vaccinating is important, especially if the animal is contagious to humans.
  • Provide adequate training: Your office pet should remain controllable and have a good temperament. If the animal is going to be around employees all day, it should also be happy to do so. You can ensure the animal has received adequate training before they join your team.
  • Establish pet-free zones: This is especially important if you have employees who aren’t as fond of the idea of office pets. Other employees may have allergies. So it is your duty to accommodate for such issues—a strict space for where the animal can go is a good business practice to follow.
  • Remember health and hygiene: With an animal in your office, you’ll need a more diligent hygiene routine.

On a final note, you should also set up a complaint procedure. While many of your staff members may delight in the arrival of an office pet, others may not. However, they may worry about office stigma against them if they speak up in front of everyone else.

As such, you should establish in your policy that anyone can complain to a manager in private without fear of criticism.

Charity events

Originating from the USA, the Bring Your Dog To Work Day has become popular in the UK as well. The day is to support charity. It also provides a lot of positive PR and positivity in your office, with many pictures ideal for your social media accounts.

But as an event, it’s also an ideal way for your business to trial run. From the outcome of this, you can see whether having animals around your office is an achievable goal.

Employee requests

But what if a staff member wants to bring their pet to work on a frequent basis? Legally, they can ask for your permission in writing. You can either agree or disagree with their request.

Base your decision on whether or not your other employees have issues with animals in your working environment. And if you do agree, your other staff members also have to.

For the employee who made the request, they will have to provide you with proof of insurance. This will cover any damage to your property. The owner will also:

  • Take responsibility for the animal while it’s at work.
  • Provide the animal with exercise and meal breaks.
  • Ensure the animal doesn’t disrupt your working day.

As a business owner, you should also remember that you are under no obligation to accept your employee’s request.

Service dogs in the workplace

Assistance dogs are specially chosen for their high standards of training. They may be guide, hearing, or general helping dogs. These dogs are able to know when they’re at work.

The result is they don’t behave like a pet and, instead, go about their duties to help an employee. You may need to arrange with the dog’s owner, or other employees, to take the dog outside for exercise and relief purposes.

But, otherwise, the dog can rest on a bed or blanket near to the employee it assists.

Office pet ideas

If you’re considering an office pet, then there are a number that are suitable for an office environment. These include:

  • Cats: Independent and well-trained, a cat is a low maintenance pet that also provide lots of entertainment value.
  • Dogs: With their natural enthusiasm, canines can cheer up a room in a matter of moments with their presence. But they are quite physically demanding and require
  • Fish: Eye-catching and also easy to manage. These won’t likely cause issues any staff members, although the fish bowl will need regular cleaning.
  • Hamsters: Rodents in general are easy to look after. You can keep their cage to one side in the office, away from any staff members who may have a phobia. However, most rodents are crepuscular (meaning they’re awake during twilight) so your employees may not see the creature very often.
  • Birds: They have a striking look and are sociable and entertaining. Birds like a budgie can really brighten up your office. Just be aware of their habit of making quite a bit of noise.

But you could also consider an office desk pet. It could be an exotic creature such as a stick insect, praying mantid, or tarantula. Again, you will need to follow your procedures to ensure other employees are happy for these creatures to live in your office.

Considering an office pet?

Looking to shake up your daily routine? Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

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