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The Benefits and Challenges of Having Pets in the Workplace

IN THE February 1 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andPets
SECTIONS

by Emma Williams

More and more workplaces are allowing pets. This is just one way that workplaces continue to evolve. But, is having pets at your place of work the right decision? That is the question this article aims to answer.

In fact, as you may have already guessed, there are definite pros and cons to having pets in the workplace. Consider both benefits and challenges before making your decision. Ultimately, allowing pets in the workplace requires a major culture and logistics shift. If this is a path you are willing to take, then good luck. In any event, you will have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Benefits of pets in the workplace
Because of the growing popularity of allowing pets into the workplace, multiple studies have been commissioned to research the effects, both good and bad. Today, there is plenty of research available that indicates many very important health benefits when pets are allowed in the workplace.

1. Less stress.
A 2012 study found that employee stress levels declined when they brought their pets to work. Dogs, in particular, created reduced stress in the workplace. The researchers do not go into detail about the reasons why dogs reduce stress. However, the cause is likely similar to why dogs, and pets, lower stress outside of work as well: They’re very fun to be around, they love unconditionally, and they force us out of ourselves.

2. Lower blood pressure.
Lower stress for many people becomes lower blood pressure as well. The link between blood pressure and stress has been well documented by science. It follows, then, that when your stress levels are lower because of your pet’s presence at work, your blood pressure will reduce. Less blood pressure means a reduced risk of heart disease. That’s a major pro in anyone’s book.

3. Greater productivity.
Greater productivity may not seem like it would be possible in workplaces with pets. You may assume that things would just be too exciting and amusing for your workers to ever be able to concentrate. However, studies have found that worker’s concentration and focus on their job increased when pets were included in the office.

Challenges of pets in the workplace
Just because there are many benefits of having pets in the workplace does not mean that the challenges don’t exist. Animals are their own unique beings. Anytime you bring them into a work situation, problems will arise.

1. Mess.
Pets are messy. That is just an unfortunate fact. It doesn’t matter the age of the animal. Potty accidents will happen, especially with dogs. There may be sickness or fur balls that cause messes. Most pets also enjoy destroying things. A cat may claw up your office furniture. A dog may tear up the waste paper bins. If you are not prepared to deal with extra mess, then allowing pets in the office is probably not the right choice for you. If the pet you are bringing to work is a house rabbit, you can have a rabbit hutch, and then you don’t have to worry about the mess.

2. Allergies.
It is estimated that about 10% of the American population has a pet allergy. There are varying degrees of pet allergies, and most are not life-threatening. Many people can control theirs through the use of medication. However, it is better to poll your employees about their allergies and wiliness to take extra medicine before allowing pets in the office.

3. Distractions.
Yes, great productivity was listed as one of the benefits of having pets in the workplace. That is still true. However, it is also true that pets can cause distractions. A sick pet, a funny moment, a dog fight, these are all situations that can be distracting for your workers.

Bored pets are especially prone to being distracting because they want attention. They may be loud or destructive. Then phone calls are interrupted, and you have a new mess to clean up. While they don’t occur all the time, pet distractions will likely be something you can count on.

Conclusion
Allowing pets in the office can be an amazing experience. They are loving and fun. Your workers will likely be less stressed, more engaged, and in better health because of a pet presence in your office. Just as pets can help seniors, so can they help workers.

However, the pros must be weighed with the bad. Research both the benefits and challenges of pets in the workplace before you commit. It is always a good idea to approach your team as well to gauge their overall receptiveness to the idea. If everyone agrees, then it is time to begin preparing for your new workforce, your pets.

I am Emma, proud Mother of four rescued dogs and two Flemish giant rabbits. It’s 2020, all my puppers are grown up now but each day with them is a new learning experience for me. I have a degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare. I know so much about pets (dogs, rabbits and pet travels) now that people come to me for suggestions and tips.

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