Pets in the Office: A Doggone Good Idea?

Inviting a dog or cat into the office on a regular basis might sound like a recipe for disaster, but studies show that such a practice can improve office cohesion and productivity. The results make it look more appealing than ever.

Does having man’s best friend hanging around the office every day make sense? Surprisingly, an increasing number of employers are saying it does.

In recent years, employers have started to embrace the idea of allowing workers to bring their pets to work every day, an idea that might have seemed verboten just a few years ago. These days, however, around 8 percent of employers surveyed in the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2015 employee benefits report¬†[PDF] say they allow their workers to bring pets into the office. That’s a jump from the 5 percent reported in 2013.

The trend is even more pronounced in industries that employ many younger people such as tech firms. Younger employees are pushing for the added flexibility, and employers that comply are getting more productivity as a result. Particularly encouraging of the trend is the American Pet Products Association, whose 2008 survey outlined the many benefits American workers attributed to having pets in the workplace.

“Employers are starting to realize that having a millennial bring … a pet to work, you wind up getting a more focused employee, you get someone more comfortable at the office, and a person willing to work longer hours,” APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere recently told NBC News.

For those who see having pets in the office every day as taking things a wee bit too far, there is room for middle ground. The trade group Pet Sitters International got on the trend early, launching its annual Take Your Dog to Work Day 17 years ago.

It seems that 3 percent of offices recognize a take your pet to work day, according to SHRM. (However, that remains considerably less popular than take your child to work day, which more than one out of five offices offer each year.)

The benefits of allowing pets in the office go beyond individual pet-owning employees. A 2010 study by Central Michigan University found that the presence of pets improved trust and collaboration in workplaces.

Do you have a pet or two around the office? How has it worked out for you? Let us know in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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