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Some Return-to-Work Policies ‘Going to the Dogs’

Newly spoiled cats, dogs and other pets won’t like spending a whole day alone, and some firms are considering new rules that allow workers to bring them along.

NEW YORK – During the pandemic, pets have become trusted allies – and coworkers of sorts – to a growing number of remote workers. Now some companies welcoming employees back to the office realize they may also need to invite workers’ furry friends. And that means building operators may need to ease restrictions to allow pet-friendly workspaces.

Of C-suite executives, 50% say they’re considering allowing employees to bring pets to work when they return to the office, according to a survey from Canfield Pet Hospital and OnePoll. And 59% say they would allow “more flexibility” for employees to take care of their pets during the workday.

The new policies may help entice more employees to return to the office after working from home for an extended period. In a separate survey from Banfield Pet Hospital and OnePoll, 63% of pet owners report anxiety over how their pets will cope with their post-pandemic work routine.

Executives also express an understanding and tolerance for pets, with 75% percent saying that being a pet owner has made them a better, more compassionate business leader. Other findings include:

  • Among executives crafting a specific pet policy for the workplace, 59% say they were motivated by employee requests.
  • 58% say they understand that staff members have gotten used to being around their pets all day.
  • 42% say a pet perk at work would entice employees to return to the office.

Research also has shown that having dogs at work can make employees more collaborative and less stressed, Inc.com reports.

“We’ve seen the human-animal bond only get stronger during the pandemic, and it’s no surprise that owners are thinking about how they can best be there for their pets when they start to spend more time outside of home,” says Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital. “We believe we can advance human health through pet health, elevating societal well-being.”

Executives who already had a pet-friendly workplace policy pre-pandemic say it prompted an increase in employee socializing, encouraged more employees to come to work, increased employee productivity, and made employees more willing to stay at work later.

However, employees suffering from pet allergies or who don’t have a fondness for pets may not be as happy about pet-friendly policies at work.

Source: Banfield Pet Hospital; “A Lot More Post-Pandemic Offices Are Going to Be Pet Friendly, New Survey Says,” inc.com (April 2021); and “Expect Workplaces to Become More Pet-Friendly After the Pandemic,” Apartment Therapy (March 27, 2021)

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