Making post-pandemic working more pawsome

Something for the weekend: The tail-wagging, excited-until-I’ll-explode welcome those of us who have dogs brace ourselves for as we walk in the door each evening is one of the things that makes the daily treadmill of commute/work/sleep bearable.

The unconditional love dogs have for their ‘hoomans’ means the fact dog ownership soared during the anxious 2020 and 2021 lockdowns is perhaps unsurprising. Indeed, an analysis by finance firm Braemar Finance has suggested the share of UK households with a pet shot up from 45% in 2019/29 to 59% in 2020/21, with 33% of households now owning a dog, followed closely by cats.

However, the transition from home to hybrid working as Covid-19 (Coronavirus) restrictions have eased has left, for many of us, the challenge of how now to leave pets who have become used to having people around all day alone for extended periods.

Enter the rise of the dog-friendly office. According to an analysis by Instant Offices, online searches for dog-friendly offices almost doubled in the last half of 2021 and are now up 22% in the first two months of 2022 compared to the year before.

It highlighted polling by pet-sitting firm Rover that has suggested two-thirds (66%) of people would feel more motivated to come into work rather than work from home if their office was dog-friendly. Just as importantly, 82% of organisations say being dog-friendly has positively affected their recruitment since reopening.

Having a friendly dog padding round the office can be great for workplace morale, mood and wellbeing. Dogs can often defuse tension and, through the need for lots of ‘good boy’ hugs, improve collaboration and work relationships.

On the other hand, of course, as an employer you may need to factor in issues around employees who (perish the thought) simply don’t like dogs or who have allergies. You will need to be sure any animal is properly house-trained so they don’t make an unpleasant mess and you will need provision for them to be exercised outside.

Employers may need to consider the risk of dogs causing time-wasting or being a distraction. There may be lease or office rental issues around having an animal on the premises and even legal or insurance issues to think about if, for instance, the dog damages something, bites someone or even if they just get underfoot and cause an employee to trip.

But enough grinching. At Employee Benefits, we’re totally doggo about the idea of dog-friendly workplaces.

In fact, why not extend this to developing a suite of dog-friendly benefits or perks? You know, ‘petting’ breakout zones, ‘treat’ hubs, walkie meetings, dog-of-the-week boards and so on? You know it makes sense. After all, what more ‘wooful’ way of showing work has changed for the better post pandemic?