Woof! Consider This Before Allowing a Dog-Friendly Office

Thinking of making your office dog-friendly? 

Along with ping pong tables and fancy coffee machines, there’s another thing that’s on the rise in offices these days: dogs. As dog lovers ourselves, we admit that the idea of having our furry friends in the office excites us, too! Many of the reasons why you’d allow your dog-owning employees to bring their furry friends in make sense: to support company culture and boost morale, help cut down on dog-walking expenses, and ultimately, because you love dogs and want to be surrounded by them.

While many would consider man’s best friend to also be man’s best coworker, there are some things to consider before opening up your workplace to employees of the canine variety.

1. Distractions

While dogs in an office full of dog lovers may boost employee morale, it may also serve as a distraction from your employees’ actual work. A dog in the office can be fun, but you risk finding your employees feeding Fido his fourth treat of the day instead of at their desks working. Not to mention that dogs may bark and also require supervision and stimulation, which may take away from your employees’ productivity. 

2. Potential damage

Do you have wires or cords near or on the floor of your office? A couch? Do your employees put down their bags on the floor? Keep in mind that a dog can cause damage to furniture and electronics, not to mention your employees’ belongings if left unsupervised. A large dog can even swipe belongings and steal food from desks. And even the most well-trained dog can have accidents or an upset stomach, causing mess and required cleanup. 

3. Allergies and personal preferences

While having a canine presence in the office may be an exciting prospect for dog lovers, there are those with dog allergies, or a fear of dogs and other large creatures, and not to mention that not everyone is a dog person (and that’s ok!). Importance should be placed on ensuring that all employees are comfortable, and that no one has adverse feelings or discomfort with any dogs that are around. 

4. Liability

While all dogs that are introduced to the office should be friendly and well-trained, dogs can get startled or spooked, and other employees can be bitten or nipped. In a worst case scenario, a severely hurt employee can potentially pursue legal action against the company. 

5. Rescinding a perk

All current employees are on board with a dog-friendly office? Check. You have ensured that all dogs that will be coming in are friendly and well-trained? Check. These are all crucial things to verify before implementing policies surrounding employees bringing their dogs into the office, but it’s impossible to truly predict how a new perk will affect the future. Having an office with a dog-friendly workspace is a unique way to draw and retain employees who are dog owners and dog lovers. However, it’s not unheard of for offices to rescind their dog-in-office policies due to a variety of factors: new hires who suffer from allergies, destructive dogs in the office, decreased productivity, and so on. 

Taking away a commonly desired workplace perk often causes a ripple effect amongst employees. Depending on your employees’ enthusiasm for the policy and whether it influenced their decision to take a position at your company, taking away such a policy may affect employee morale. Or, it may impact your employees’ relationships with the employee who is seen as having “caused” the policy to be taken away.

Here’s a real life example of what happened when a new employee with allergies caused her workplace to rescind their dog-friendly policy.

Having a dog-friendly office can be a unique way to attract and retain talent, boost employee morale, and help save your employees time and money on pet care expenses. However, it’s good practise to first evaluate the potential risks if implementing such a policy. If you would like to help support your employees’ financial commitments to their pets without worrying about any potential risks involved in having a pet-friendly workspace, consider offering your employees an Allowance Account. Along with popular categories such as fitness, education, and other wellness areas, your employees’ Allowance Account can go towards vet bills, pet food, and pet sitting/walking expenses. 

Learn more about Honeybee Benefits!