Pet-friendly workplaces are the norm in tech and they’re quickly becoming an expectation of employees. Industry leaders like Google and Facebook have well-established policies for employees who want to bring their pets to work. The Amazon headquarters in Seattle has a particularly pet-friendly campus, with up to 6000 dogs in the office some days! They maintain that office puppos help their teams collaborate. With other benefits, including improving the health of your team and offering flexibility to employees, a pet-friendly office can be an important workplace perk.
Sendwithus has been a pet-friendly workplace since Day One. One of our early employees often brought in their adorable dog, Mushu.
When I started a policy overhaul, we didn’t have an ‘official’ office pet policy. Having pets in the office is a balance of expectations between the employer, the pet owner, and all the other employees that occupy the workplace. As employers, we have to consider our legal obligations and factor in the damage that an aggressive or messy pet could cause. For these reasons, it’s important to have a policy in place, even if it seems like something employees should be able to manage themselves.
Here are some things to consider before implementing an Office Pet Policy:
- Legal Obligations: Most lease agreements will outline expectations around pets in the space. Some may disallow pets altogether or outline what types of pets or breeds are allowed. Make sure to check all of the stipulations before finalizing a new policy.
- Allergies & Fears: You have to check in often about whether any of your employees have allergies to pets or if any have a fear that is impacting their work. When new employees start, you should make sure to give them the opportunity to disclose any issues. You may need to update the policy if this is the case. Be prepared to be flexible.
- Complaints: Think about how complaints will be managed. You can designate an HR representative for employees to approach with complaints or make a form available, but either way, it should be stipulated in your policy. You should also outline what constitutes grounds for a complaint, and how many complaints are allowed before a pet is no longer welcome in the office.
- Obligations of Pet Owners: Pet owners understand that it is their responsibility to take care of their pet in the workplace, but stipulating areas where pets are not permitted and whether pets should be on a leash is good practice. You may also want to limit how many days per week an employee can bring in their pet.
- Permissions: Some workplaces require an application before a pet can be brought in to work for the day. It is also common to require a trial before a pet is permitted to visit the office regularly.
In the end, we decided not to have an application process. Instead, we encourage employees to bring concerns forward through a defined escalation path, as outlined in our policy. Our policy also includes the responsibilities of pet owners and has an extra stipulation based on the requirements of our lease agreement in San Francisco.
We have yet to have any issues with the pets in our office and I know I enjoy the days we have canine visitors. With a clearly defined policy in place, I’m confident we can continue to enjoy pets in the office.