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There's a Dog in the Office
Is there supposed to be a dog in the office?
During the Covid Times, many of us made our dogs SO HAPPY because we NEVER LEFT THEM. We were home ALL THE TIME. And now that we are returning to in-person work venues, some offices have, well, DOGS in them.
Before the pandemic, dogs in the office were a rarity, usually found mostly in the business settings of creative types (e.g., late-night TV shows like The Daily Show had dog-friendly offices). But now, many people have enjoyed having their dogs with them during the work day, and they would like to be able to bring them to the office.
Many of you reading this may be thinking, “Uh, yeah—No. Not going to happen in THIS office.” And that may be an accurate response, given your firm’s corporate culture, and/or if someone on your staff has a dog allergy or a dog phobia.
However, if you are actually considering it, you may find that office dogs provide a wonderful morale boost, and may even help with retention. Post-pandemic retention is a problem in many industries in which highly-skilled white-collar workers are re-aligning their “work-life balance” into a “work-life integration,.” Some of them might choose to leave your firm to work for a competitor that allows them flexible hours, an adaptive remote/in-person work schedule, or other quality-of-life perks that weren’t mainstream options a few years ago. Believe it or not, for many people, “I can bring my dog to work with me” could be a significant retention factor.
If you do decide to try out a “bring your dog to work” program, first check to make sure no one on your staff has a dog allergy or a dog phobia—it might have never come up in conversation before. Then set some ground rules in advance, such as:
Dogs need to be quiet, well-behaved, house-trained, and not aggressive.
If more than one person is bringing in a dog, all of the dogs have to get along with other dogs.
Dogs coming into the office need to be up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Dogs need to be clean, not stinky—regular baths are a good plan, and dogs with, um, “flatulence problems” are not good candidates for an office environment.
People bringing dogs also need to bring dog beds and water dishes from home, as well as toys to keep them (the dogs) from being bored and treats to reward good behavior.
People bringing dogs will need to take them out for frequent potty breaks. They will need a place to do this, and they will need to factor in ways to make up the lost time to stay as productive.
People bringing dogs need to clearly know that they are responsible for their dogs while they are in the office. They can’t expect the receptionist or an intern to take the dog for walks, etc.
Have a plan for when dogs can’t be in the office (e.g., when a non-dog-lover client will be in the office for a meeting).
People bringing in dogs need to make sure their dogs aren’t annoying other people or wearing out their welcome. Address negative issues promptly (e.g., a dog who is “marking his territory” on the cubicle walls may need to be disinvited from the office), and have a plan for checking in over time to make sure there aren’t any festering problems.
Ask your people about other ways to improve the quality of their work life. “Having our monthly staff meetings on a beach in Aruba” probably is impractical, but they may suggest other quality-of-life improvements that could integrate well and improve morale, productivity, and retention. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box—you might find ways to make your firm the “employer-of-choice” in your region.