A staffmember pets the office cat while he works.

Should You Bring Your Pet to Work?

National Fun at Work Day is January 26th and was “created to foster happiness and humor in the office and bring employees together.” We think bringing pets to work is a great way to lift spirits and add levity to the work day... and our readers agree.

A whopping majority (more than 90% of survey respondents!) would prefer to work for an organization with pet-friendly office policies, and more than 75% consider these policies at least “somewhat important” during the job hunt. Fortunately, expert opinion appears to be on their side. Mental health professionals, productivity specialists, and Human Resources managers all agree that pets can (and often do) make a fitting addition to the office, improving workday life for everyone from interns to the executive suite.

Benefits of Pets in the Workplace

Here are just a handful of reasons to consider changing ‘Bring Your Pet to Work Day’ from a one-time event to an everyday policy.

Pets Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Burnout is a very real concern for companies in just about every industry. When employees have nothing but work on their minds, it tends to take a physical and mental toll, impeding their performance. Pets in the workplace offer a much-needed distraction and make working small breaks into the day a necessity. Don’t worry, those distractions and walk breaks don’t lead to disengaged employees. In 2018, a Nationwide Insurance survey found that workers in pet-friendly offices were more likely to feel engaged (95%) in their work than their counterparts in pet-free workspaces (just 65%).

Pets Help Reduce Stress

It’s not just anecdotal evidence that suggests pets have a positive impact. Years of studies support the notion that quality time with cats, dogs, and other companion animals can reduce stress while providing a range of health benefits. Pets create a more care-free office environment, inspiring camaraderie among teammates and potentially boosting productivity.

Pets Help Recruit and Retain Employees

Pet owners have grown even more attached to their four-legged pals since the pandemic. For employers, taking a new pet-friendly stance can better ensure top-notch talent feels inspired to join the team or stick around for years to come.

Pets in the Workplace: Dos and Don’ts

Do: Understand Company Policy

Tempting as it may be to bring your dog or cat to work on Day 1, it’s best to familiarize yourself with your workplace and its policies before committing to the plan. Ask around. Just because a company has pet-friendly policies doesn’t mean every one of your new officemates is thrilled at the prospect. Discuss the possibility of a new four-legged co-worker with the people who work closest to you. Would they find a dog distracting? Are they allergic? Asking these questions ahead of time can help avoid an awkward transition into your new role and new workplace relationships.

Don’t: Leave Pets Alone

A beloved office pet can easily become an unwelcome distraction, nuisance, and hazard when left to their own devices. Make sure your schedule is amenable to keeping a close eye on your cat or dog throughout the workday. This will ensure they’re not poking into meetings, getting into altercations with fellow office pets, or otherwise disrupting day-to-day operations.

Do: Come Prepared

Making work feel like home can help minimize stress for workplace pets while reducing the risks of mishaps and disruptions. Create a personal space filled with familiar objects that will help your pet relax in this new setting. Don’t forget to bring water, treats, and other essentials.

Don’t: Go Overboard

When it comes to pets at work, too much of a good thing can mean annoyed colleagues and a stressed, exhausted pet. Listen to your pet to ensure they’re comfortable trekking out to the office and don’t subject them to any activities or socialization that they don’t appear comfortable with.

The Future of Pets in the Workplace

The future looks bright for the pet-owning workforce. As employers work to define the new normal, many are adopting new pet-friendly policies or amending the ones they have in place. One survey, co-sponsored by the Banfield Pet Hospital and OnePoll, found that half of executive respondents will soon begin allowing pets in the office. That means we can celebrate National Fun at Work Day everyday!