Since Saturday was National Love Your Pet Day, it felt fitting to talk about the elephant, or well cat, in your Zoom. For nearly a year now many of us have worked from home, and our beloved pets have enjoyed the benefits from it, but as many offices begin bringing some staff back to the office we can’t help but also wonder what about Fido? This unknown can cause some added anxiety to employees as they figure out how to navigate this return to 9-5 and leaving their furry companions at home.
Some businesses may want to consider the option of allowing employees to bring pets along with them to the office as they return. While it may seem easy to just say yes and bring in your furry companions, there needs to be some ground rules. You'll need to take time and draft guidelines for how you will handle these fluffy new employees.
Do any employees have pet allergies?
What protocols will be put in place to keep the office clean?
How will the employer handle potential distractions, damage, messes and noises that pets may create?
Nestlé Purina Petcare offers an employer toolkit for making offices pet-friendly. The toolkit includes a checklist, an authorization form, etiquette guidelines and office signs. According to Purina's toolkit, employers should establish what types of pets can be brought to the office. Some employers may only allow cats and dogs, while others may allow birds, fish and more. Employers can designate pet-free zones in the policy and address concerns, such as accommodating employees with allergies and different comfort levels about having pets in the workplace. Taking time to identify ground rules can help mitigate headaches later.
Other options that employers might want to consider are if working from home isn't broke, why completely fix it? If your employees are able to complete a majority of tasks from home with minor disruptions, then perhaps you might consider a hybrid schedule to allow them to work from home certain days and report into the office for others.
So as you begin having discussions with employees about how and what returning to the office might look like, don't leave Fluffy out of the conversations. Well Fluffy might not be as concerned, after all do cats really care what we do?
*Please note this discussion focuses on how to handle concerns with bringing pets into the office, and not those deemed as medically necessary such as Service Animals.