June Writer’s Forum Question
According to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, one in five companies allows workers to bring their pets to work. How does your business stand on this issue? If your company does allow pets, what results have you noticed?
None of the people who responded were ambivalent about pets in the workplace—everyone pretty much either loves the idea or hates it. First, let’s look at the comments in favor of a pet-friendly office.
Susan Rhoads of Westminster, Colorado, enthusiastically supports the idea.
Pets in the office? You better believe it! When I interviewed, my employer asked if having dogs around bothered me. Are you kidding? I have two cocker spaniels! It’s always a happier, more energetic day when someone on the staff brings in a furry companion for a visit.
Now if I could just get the company to agree to casual weeks instead of just Fridays…
Jana Kocinski of Grand Rapids loves being able to bring her dog to work.
We’re a small architecture firm, and everyone here agreed to allow dogs and cats in the office, provided they are well behaved and can get along with the other people and pets. I think it works because everyone has his or her own office, and pets aren’t just roaming around. My corgi, Shamus, has his own corner with a nice little bed and toys. He’s old (11 years) and is very happy to just sleep while I am working. At breaks or lunch, those of us with pets take them out to a fenced-in yard to play, or sometimes for a walk in the neighborhood. I think it makes for a very relaxed, comfortable environment, and I for one love it.
Sandu Miklos of Chicago has this to say.
I have a happy little Jack Russell terrier. If I had to leave him home every day, I know he’d be miserable, so it’s great to be able to bring him to work. My office encourages this and has a reasonably priced doggy day care center. I can take my dog for a walk at lunch, and it’s a load off my mind knowing he’s having a good time for the rest of the day. It sounds silly, I know, but for some people, pets are like their children, so pet care becomes just as important as child care. If you don’t have to think about your pet being home alone or somewhere else, you can concentrate better on your work. This is a major reason I am loyal to my company, and I work harder because of it.
Others had an opposing opinion, based on different working conditions.
Verna Dodge, who works for the county of Santa Barbara, sums up potential problems.
I think bringing pets to work is unprofessional and infringes on others in the workplace. Health laws are in place for a reason and should be followed. Animals can carry pests (fleas, mites, etc.) and might pose a health risk. Pets do not belong in restaurants, grocery stores, retail stores, etc. Dogs may bite, and this could be an insurance liability. Even when visiting friends, pet owners should check to make sure that they have permission before imposing their pets on others.
Conversely, pets should not be subjected to adverse conditions for the convenience of their owners. They should not be left in cars, where they can become overheated, while their owners run errands.
Desiree Tompkins of Newark says some situations simply make pets impractical.
I’m a sales rep, and so I am out of the office a lot. It would be impossible to keep a pet at my office. What would I do with it when I go on sales calls? Sure, it might be nice to have a warm, wriggling little body nearby, but it’s just out of the question for me.
A Final Thought
Wherever you are in the hierarchy of your business—whether you are the owner, a manager, or a cubicle worker—remember that ours is a classless society. We tend to forget that little detail upon which our nation was founded: equality. Don’t be afraid to talk to people outside your office strata. Just being higher on the corporate ladder doesn’t make someone superior to you in life. And just being lower on that same ladder doesn’t make someone inferior to you. Reach out. Have lunch together. Talk. Every person is surprising and interesting in his or her own way. Remember, when we treat each other with the dignity and respect every person deserves, we create a better world for everyone.