What if Lassie came to work with you? She’d fetch coffee, protect you from baddies, and of course, let you know when little Timmy is trapped down in corporate accounts payable. But jokes aside, are pets helpful in office environments?
It’s very clear that pets reduce stress and improve health. Many research studies show that pets lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety. So it’s natural that pets have made their way into some offices. Just last month was Take Your Dog to Work Day, and one design agency, Second Story, even lists two dogs as staff members.
Stress Reduction vs. Productivity
If pets can reduce our anxiety, can they help us be less stressed and more productive at work? Or are pets at work simply going to be another distraction? Continuing with my Lassie thought experiment, I pondered the pros and cons over a coffee I had to fetch myself. Here’s what I came up with:
Pros of pets in the office
- The obvious stress relief and health benefits
- Reduced doggy daycare and other pet-sitting costs
- Bonding among co-workers who like pets
- Potential customer appeal especially in front-office situations
Cons of pets in the office
- Trouble for co-workers with allergies
- Interruptions for walks and doggie bathroom breaks
- Damage caused by chewing and “accidents” around the office
- Distractions and other interruptions caused by barking or just wanting attention
- Employee friction and stress for those who dislike animals
Can Dogs and Cats Work Together?
Then it comes down to which pets? Some people like dogs. Some like cats. But what about squirrels? Will they all get along? And where do you draw the line?
Consider what pets do while you’re at work. Lassie might be well-behaved but pets with behavior problems who bark and attack other animals, or even people, are obviously a problem. There’s always that dog who eats all the cupcakes in the kitchen or growls on conference calls. And don’t even talk to me about cats who refuse to work on a PC or file their expense accounts on time!
Clearly I’m overanalyzing. Perhaps an approval process could be put in place to ensure that only well-behaved pets make it into the office. And in some environments, like small businesses, managing an office pet or two may not really be that difficult.
Are pets in the office a good or bad thing? Would you bring your pet to work? Would you want pets in the next cube?
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