Some business leaders champion the benefits of having dogs in the workplace and encourage staff to do so – others aren’t so enthusiastic. Two CEOs give their views on whether bringing four-legged friends into the office is good for business
Alice Weightman, founder and CEO of The Work Crowd
As a dog owner and chief executive of a pet-friendly business, I have personal experience of the benefits pets can bring to the workplace. I bring in my dog, Pepsi, and others in our team do the same. We find they help create a more relaxed, happy and productive environment.
Pets are famously good for the health, with studies showing they can help lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. With regular reports of stressed employees and the effect this has on absenteeism and productivity, having animals around can help alleviate those feelings, providing light relief and a calming presence. Taking your dog for a walk can also aid creativity, giving you an excuse to get out of the office and clear your head.
Having pets in the office is also positive for client relations, helping to break the ice and create a welcoming, more open atmosphere. They can even make you more memorable to clients, enhancing your brand in the process.
Most employers realise the office is no longer a place of stuffy formality and that, to work at their best, employees need to be engaged, healthy and have the freedom to be themselves. As individuals strive for greater work-life balance, and employers look for ways to motivate themselves, allowing pets in the workplace is a simple way of doing both.
Rachel Carrell, founder and CEO of Koru Kids
Look, I like dogs. I begged for one when I was a kid. I like them on long walks, in big houses, and sitting outside pubs. I just don’t like them in my office. Why? First, they smell, and they shed hair. Wet dog is not one of the world’s great whiffs.
Then, think of the health effects. For some people, being near a dog is misery. I don’t want the soundtrack to my office to be one of staff sneezing – and I also don’t want to have to introduce a new interview screening question: “Any pet allergies?”
I also enjoy the freedom of having snacks littered around the office. Perhaps I haven’t met enough well-mannered dogs in my time, but I’d be nervous of our food mysteriously disappearing. Even if the owner supervised their dog while at their desk, at some point they’ll be at an external meeting or emergency, at which point the pet becomes the unwanted responsibility of some other poor person.
Finally, there’s the practical issue of space. My business arranges childcare for working parents, so I am entirely sympathetic to the need for workplaces to become more flexible to accommodate loved ones. Ours, though, was not built for dogs. Office rents are high, and our office is about the right size for our team. It’s not the right size for our team plus their dogs. A fish might be OK, though.