Dog-friendly office: what are the trends and where to start?
Czechs are traditionally regarded as a nation of dog lovers. According to 2020 statistics from the European Pet Food Industry Federation, up to 40% of households own a dog and over two million dogs live in the Czech Republic. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has brought pets much closer to their owners, further encouraging the local trend towards dog-friendly offices. So how do you arrange your office so that it suits not only dogs but also people? What factors do you need to consider and what can dogs contribute to the workplace?
An office full of productivity
It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the concept of canistherapy that the presence of dogs in the workplace has beneficial effects on workflow and social ties between employees.
The biggest advantages of dog-friendly workspaces are:
- Time flexibility – employees who have their dog with them in the office can more easily and conveniently complete their tasks without having to leave early to walk the dog
- Financial benefit – thanks to a dog-friendly office, employees can save money that they would otherwise spend on dog walking or sitting services during the day
- Productivity – the presence of dogs in the workplace can significantly reduce stress, positively motivate people and develop internal relationships
Where to start?
The first step is an anonymous survey in the form of a questionnaire, in which your employees can share their thoughts about pets in the workplace. Not everyone is an animal lover, and the risk of allergies must also be considered.
The questionnaire can therefore tell you whether such a benefit is suitable for you. At the same time, the evaluation of the results and the final decision should also depend on the intuition and good judgment of the employer.
The questions should touch on health (do you suffer from any allergies related to animals?), social (would you agree if one of your colleagues brought their dog to work?) and productivity (could the presence of a dog in the workplace interfere with your concentration?) aspects.
One step at a time
Have you decided to offer this benefit to your employees? Don't jump into it headfirst. The next step for a comfortable and safe coexistence of dogs and people in the workplace is to create firm rules that will adapt to the current situation.
Like people, every dog has its own personality and social preferences. The ideal solution for dogs with different "natures" is an online calendar, where owners can write down when they will bring their furry family member to work.
A form where the dog owner undertakes to respect certain guidelines and principles can also help when setting the rules.
What constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour (e.g. excessive barking, aggression towards other dogs, destruction of office equipment) needs to be formulated precisely.
Places to play and rest
The next step is to create an environment where the animals will be happy. The ideal option is if your office has an outdoor area available such as a terrace, park or garden where dogs and their owners can go for a short walk. If you don't have this option, consider creating a pet-proof "playroom".
Dog-friendly office design can include, for example, water bowls integrated into furniture, lounge zones where dogs can use sofas together with employees, or holders for leashes and clothes located near the desks. Durable and washable materials are a matter of course. A good example of a complex and variable space solution is the office that CAPEXUS created for the Miton investment group, which regularly hosts 18 dogs.
Dog-free meeting room
Just as dogs should have a place in the workplace where they can express themselves, it is also good to think about where they should not be.
This can be, for example, a kitchen with a relaxation zon separated by a door or a closed meeting room. If the layout allows it, an alternative can also be a mobile, easily disassembled enclosure that separates the workplace where the dog is currently located from the others. In short, everyone should get what they need.
Authors of the photos: Martin Šlechta and Zuzana Benešová (Everbay.co), Pixabay, Unsplash
Published: 14. 9. 2022