The first question that might be worth getting stuck into is, ‘is it a good idea to have dogs in offices?’ or, ‘should my company be allowing staff to bring dogs?’. To be honest, I’m not going to try to answer that here. That’s for each organisation to decide for themselves really, and it’s beyond my boundaries. The answer will also vary depending on the conditions within your company.
If your place of work allows you to bring your puppy or your dog with you then firstly, think yourself lucky. It’s actually quite a rare practice.
But where we can help is once companies have decided that they want to have a ‘bring your dog to work’ policy. There is a lot to think about at this point and the way I see it, to keep this as simple as possible, we need to look at it through the eyes of 4 distinct groups:
- The employer
- The employee
- The other employees
- The dog
If having dogs in the office is to be considered successful, it needs to be structured, considered and framed with rules and practices that mean it’s safe, healthy and in the best interests of everyone.
The employer needs to ensure that the right rules are in place, and that they are clearly communicated. They need to know their responsibilities and what duties they have in terms of health & safety, and general wellbeing.
The employer also needs to retaincontrol over whether dogs are, or aren’t allowed into the office, and to retainthe right to refuse certain dogs on the grounds of behaviour or training.
The employer also needs to ensure that the office is fully equipped to receive dogs.
The other employees
This group is often overlooked but when you bring a dog into an office, it affects everyone. The effects can be hard to predict but your team may include non-dog owners, people who are dog-phobic, people who are dog-mad (which can be just as problematic) and people with very differing views on how dogs should be trained and treated.
While the dog – owner relationship needs to remain protected, there needs to be a clear setof rules that protect everyone, keep the dog happy, and fulfil the needs of anyother team members.
The employee / dog owner
The employee needs to know what their responsibilities are to everyone involved, and to take enough care to fully train and prepare their dog for life in an office. The employee needs to retain full ownership of the dog and full responsibility for the dog’s behaviour.
This might seem obvious, but the truth is that the role and status of a person in their home, may be quite different to when they arein the office. Maintaining a healthy status relationship with the dog may actuallycreate some changes when the owner is in a different status or role at theirplace of work.
This can all be worked through with training, effort and thought.
Dogs are incredibly flexible and they usually cope with change very well. But they still need a certain level of comfort, safety and sadly, certain dogs just aren’t happy in an office. It may depend on how busy and how noisy your office is. Do you have members of the public or other dogs there? Will the dog have a private space of its own where it can get away or sleep if it needs to?
We’ll help you to get your dog ready, and help to reassure employers that they’re admitting ‘office ready dogs’, rather than simply opening the doors.
So – we’ve got the needs of a few groups of people to balance, which means that what works in some places, might not work in others.
Ultimately, for dogs in offices to really work out, it needs to have support from the whole team. The employer and management need to be on board and in favour, the team need to welcome it and respect the boundaries, and of course the owner has toput in the training and ensure the puppy is up to the job (pun intended).
But, with the right intentions, I believe that dogs can really thrive in offices and can pay huge rewards to the people working there. Dogs bring affection, happiness and fun to any work place.
The effort is worth balancing against the alternatives too – people working in an office with a dog alone at home are distracted, will work shorter hours and will make more use of flexitime and remote working. Why take them away from each other when you can please everyone and increase your staff’s happiness and productivity?