Pets At Work – Good Or Bad?

Pets at work, yes or no?

Bringing your dog or cat to work may sound like the best thing in the world to some people, after all you get to spend more time your furry friend! The good news for these people is that more and more companies are beginning to allow pets to be brought in to the work.

The even better news is that there are lots of positive benefits to having animals in the workplace, but there are also some downsides as well. We thought we’d look into both sides so that you can see a balanced argument.

The Pawsitives For Pets

Most people who have pets can attest to the fact that your mood can be improved by spending a good few minutes having a cuddle with your dog or cat. This also translates to the office which is great for anyone trying to convince their manager to let them bring their dog in.

The even better news here is that it has been proven that dogs help to promote social cohesion with teams and help to improve relationships between people. A study by Central Michigan University performed two experiments to look into how dogs affected teamwork in an office environment.

One experiment saw 12 groups of four individuals being told to create a 15 second advertisement. The group had to decide on one experiment; however everyone was encouraged to put forth ideas. Some of these groups had dogs with them whereas the others did not. After it was completed, the volunteers answered a question about how they felt about working with the other team members.

Loyalty – Not Just For Dogs

Those with dogs were more likely to rank their team mates highly in terms of trust, team cohesion and intimacy compared to those who did not! Another experiment saw 13 groups formed and they played a game known as ‘the prisoner’s dilemma’. All four members were ‘charged’ with a crime and they could chose to either tell on their team mates, or instead be loyal and stand by them.

Everyone can learn to get along

Everyone can learn to get along

The difference though, is that the decision made by an individual affected the other teams and their outcomes. If only one person did not snitch, then they got the heaviest punishment, the lightest punishment was given if only one person chose to snitch and so forth. It was reported that the second best outcome was when all four decided against telling.

So what happened when groups had dogs among them? Well, they were 30% less likely to snitch than the groups without dogs. So…that sounds like a pretty clear cut case for having dogs in the workplace in our opinion.

Less Stress

There is also a case for having animals in the workplace helping to reduce the amount of stress employees have. Quite obviously for the employee bringing the dog in, they no longer have to worry about their dog being home alone or having to get home quickly to let their dog out.

But a study by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association also showed that when employees have pet friendly work environments they are more likely to be happier and less stressed. For employers this is great news and something to consider as less stress means more productivity!

 The Arguments Fur Pet Free

As much as we wish that all the arguments for having pets in the office are positive, there are unfortunately negative aspects that should be considered. Besides the fact that employers will have to ensure that there are dog or cat friendly areas in their offices now, combined with making sure that the animals won’t be a nuisance, there are health risks too.

It’s Not All Kittens And Rainbows

If you like animals then cats and dogs in the office is highly likely to get a big thumbs up from most people. But spare a thought for the people for who animals in the office could be the worst thing in their working lives.

Not always good

Pets aren’t always a good thing

Now we’re not being dramatic here as there will be many people who suffer from allergies relating to cats and dogs. As much fun as it would be to bring in your pet, it should not even be a thought if you know one of your colleagues will suffer through it.

They could have very mild allergic reactions or it could be the opposite end of the scale and result in respiratory disorders. If this happens then any of that productivity that could have been gained will have been lost as it’s highly likely the employee would have to go home or to the hospital.

Along with this, it’s important to remember that some people are genuinely terrified of dogs or cats. No one wants to make work a place where they are terrified to go and if someone has a phobia, or simply just really doesn’t feel comfortable around animals, and then it is not fair to them to bring in an animal.

So to sum this up, employers should ensure that all employees are okay with bringing in animals. If anyone says no, then it should be an automatic no to the animals.

Safety

Besides the obvious safety warnings we’ve just given about employees feeling comfortable, there are more serious concerns to be had about animals in the office. At the end of the day, animals are sentient creatures and are not always going to do what their owners want them to.

Your cat may be the perfect little angel when at home but what to say it won’t suddenly decide those wires look delicious? Or the desk you’re working at would sure make a great scratching post. This can end up costing the company money by having to replace broken or unsafe items or covering up wires with cable covers.

As well as this, no matter how friendly an animal is, there is always a chance that something can happen to frighten or cause your animal to feel threatened. There could be no bigger headache for a company than finding out that the cute little dog down in customer service has bitten an employee! Ideally this could be stopped by ensuring dogs are on their leash and ensuring people are made aware not to frighten them, but sometimes things just happen.

Animals in the office can also mean that companies will need to spend money ensuring that not only are they animal friendly, but that the workplace is kept as clean as possible. Cats and dogs leave plenty of fur behind and if an accident happens then cleaners will have even more to do. Companies have to decide whether it’s really worth their time to spend so much time cleaning up after pets.

Take A Paws For Thought

So, have we convinced you that pets should definitely be in the office or is it a firm no? Why not let us know if you work in a pet friendly environment, we’d love to hear how your workplace copes with animals!

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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