Here at First Class Accounts, we’re small business owners. Most of us work from home offices. One of the perks of working from home is having our pets with us all day – but it’s not just home-office workers who can scratch Rover or pat Fluffy in between emails. A growing trend in corporate offices worldwide is allowing pets to come to work with their owners to tackle workplace stress and promote social interactions.
The decision on whether to bring animals into the workplace requires careful consideration of a variety of crucial factors, though. On the surface, the decision may seem simple. Animals are cute. People like cute. Why not add a little cute to the eight or so hours you spend at the workplace? But unlike that no-one-knows-how-to-use-it coffee machine or the family pack of Arnott’s Cream bikkies in the shared kitchen, animals are living beings that need personalised care and thought. They offer immense reward while potentially creating new difficulties too.
But despite the obvious ‘cons’ (little accidents, shedding, allergies) don’t write off having pooches & kitties in the office too quickly. Depending on the unique qualities of your workplace, animals could be the perfect way to create a huge morale boost.
Animals can reduce stress
No matter how positive and harmonious your workplace is, there are usually ways you can improve conditions. Profit, success and working with tricky clients, can come with their fair share of stress and frustration. One way to ease these negative emotions is to rely on the cheering power of pets. Studies show that dogs in the workplace can decrease stress and increase job satisfaction. Decreased stress can go a long way in improving relationships and fostering both creativity and productivity where they would otherwise be non-existent.
Animals can encourage collaboration
Caring for and spending time with an animal that has no direct connection to their work can be a mental relief for employees. Colleagues can share tasks related to the animal or animals without the weight of differing positions and career expectations attached. This sort of equality can encourage collaboration between those who might never have had the opportunity or desire to do so beforehand.
Animals can shake up the social environment
Depending on the age of your business, something as significant as allowing animals into the workplace might be a welcome change.
Becky and Susie have been working beside each other for a long time. Dan and Lisa have had the same conversation about the weather for ages. They might be stuck in routine and think they know each other too well. The presence of an animal energises employees to learn new things about their co-workers, bridge petty differences or dislikes and find better ways to relate to one another. Love for a pet isn’t dependent on the minor successes and failures of a day at work.
The benefits of animals in the workplace are well documented, but we do need to address the Dalmatian in the room. One person’s ideal work environment can seem unprofessional or odd to someone else. By taking the plunge and choosing to allow animals into the workplace, you could be sending an undesirable message to potential clients or other office guests. Phobias must be taken seriously. Allergies are another primary concern. Even the most ardent animal lover might be forced to refuse office pets if they break out in hives after a few minutes of patting the animals in question.
In the end, it’s up to you to determine whether the pros outweigh the cons and vice versa. Animals can be an invaluable addition to your workplace and can unite workplaces into feeling like a family. Either way, don’t let fear of change hold you back from seeking positive ways to improve your workplace conditions.
We’d love to know your thoughts! Do you have animals at work? Tell us your experience below!