The worldwide shutdowns of 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic sent us humans home to work remotely with no end in sight — but our dogs started living their best lives. Instead of being in crates during the workday, they were on our laps, getting frequent walks, soaking up the snuggles, and bonding with their best friends. Working from home, pet parents and their four-pawed children finally got to spend mass amounts of quality time together.
As businesses reopen and employees return to work, pet owners are reluctant to leave their waggy-tailed loved ones home alone. Searches for “dog friendly work spaces near me” are up 267% this month. So, we surveyed employees and company leaders about office pet policies. Are employees willing to return to the office without their canine co-workers? What pet-friendly perks do they want most? How can employers entice pet-loving employees back to the office? What are employers willing to do to accommodate office pups? Read on to find out.
In a dream world, we’d spend our workday typing with one hand and petting a dog’s soft head with the other. In the real world, that’s not always possible. However, it’s possible to work for a pet-friendly company. We looked into the pet-friendly perks employees are searching for most. How might employers make the reality of working without our four-pawed friends a little more tolerable?
Pet parents want to know their pups are taken care of while they’re at work. For most, that means having their dog at work with them every day — the workplace perk preferred by 36% of respondents. Others will settle for designated doggy days at the office (34%) or extra breaks to go check on them at home (29%). Men were more likely than women to want dogs allowed in the workplace every day, but they were less concerned than women about animal therapy days.
Sharing office space with one’s fur baby isn’t the only way employers can make returning to work more comfortable. Employers might consider adding pet insurance to their employee benefits package, as 31% of dog owners said they would appreciate it. They could also include a stipend for doggy day care and dog walking or offer “pawternity” leave to allow employees to stay home and care for sick or newly adopted pets.
The employee demand for pet-friendly offices has employers barking up some new trees. In the last year, searches for workplace pet policy templates were up 400%, and 71% of employees reported that their employer had updated their pet policy. And while small businesses were 55% more likely than large ones to have changed their pet policies in the past year, the larger, more profitable companies may have already been ahead of that curve with more profits to spend on employee benefits.
With more dogs heading to the office, owners need to safely transport them there and keep them happy in their new nine-to-five home. How are employees getting their pups to work, and what cubicle comforts are they providing for their loyal companions? What benefits can employers expect when they allow pups in the office?
Having a furry passenger might mean a more enjoyable commute, but it also comes with some requirements for keeping doggies safe on the road. More than half of dog owners bought either a seat belt, carrier, or car seat designed especially for dogs, while over one-third of pet parents bought a special harness for the ride. It’s a relief that only 3% hadn’t purchased any special safety gear to transport their pup to work. This finding shows that most pet owners took their dog’s safety very seriously.
Once they arrive at the office, it’s a dog’s life! Nearly every pet owner we surveyed (99%) said their dog enjoys going to work with them. It’s no wonder — pet parents have rolled out the red carpet for their pooches, stocking their offices with dog treats, pillows, and toys for their new deskmates. Women, in particular, ensured their furry friends had everything they needed to be comfortable, including cleanup materials.
With all these happy pups around, employers can look forward to an increase in company community and morale. Half of the employees surveyed said they made new friends at work because they brought their pets to the office. Employees in pet-friendly offices also report higher job satisfaction and increased productivity. Pet-friendly offices also experience 56% less company turnover. No cuter way to increase company morale and performance than that!
While pets in the workplace may improve morale, not all employers are willing to let their employees bring theirs. How can employers appease pet-loving employees? What pet-friendly perks are most likely to attract and retain talent? Can a pet-friendly office increase employee willingness to return to in-person or hybrid work?
While employers believe that having dogs at the office would improve job satisfaction, stress levels, and mental health, they also think it might reduce productivity. So, while they were willing to offer some pet-friendly perks — and only 11% were unwilling — most employers weren’t nearly as generous as employees and job-seekers might like them to be.
Only 18% of employers said they would let employees bring their pups to the office every day. But a slightly more promising 31% would allow canine companions on certain days, at least. As 86% of employees said they would look forward to returning to work more if they could bring their dog to the office, adding pet days to office pet policies could give employers a big paw up in hiring and retaining good talent.
Aside from pet days, employers were most likely to offer pet insurance (40%) or other perks outside the office like “pawternity” leave (31%) and extra breaks for walks and feedings (25%). Happily for employers, these perks were among those most desired by employees, with 31% wanting pet insurance, 25% wanting “pawternity” leave, and 29% wanting extra breaks.
Larger companies, which have more money for things like employee benefits and paid time off, were the most likely to offer more work flexibility for pet parents. These businesses were also the most willing to provide pet insurance (48%) but the least likely to provide a stipend for dog walking services (12%).
The past two years have been like a dream for most pets, with 24/7 access to all the walks, treats, cozy laps, and pampering they deserve. But while puppy parents could spend all day with those big warm hearts and cold little noses, not every business is open to having dogs in the office.
Reluctant to return to the office and leave their pups behind, the employees we surveyed wanted work perks to help them care for their loyal companions. Nothing short of bringing their dog to work every day would suffice for some. Others would accept special doggy office days, doggy day care stipends, extra breaks, or “pawternity” leave, all of which many employers are willing to offer
Whether you’re lucky enough to work side-by-side with your precious pooch or if you have to punch the clock alone, many employers are willing to help ease the pain of pet and owner separation. And while going into the office without your best friend may take a little bark out of your day, there’s still nothing better than coming home to that adoring face and wagging tail. After all, no amount of time apart can lessen the love between a pup and their person.
To determine perceptions about bringing dogs to the office Barkbus surveyed 1,057 individuals, comprising 253 employers and 804 employees. Keyword trend searches from the United States in the last 12 months were also included.
Barkbus is a luxury mobile dog grooming service aiming to end traumatic trips to the grooming salon. They currently service Southern California — Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego — with plans for national expansion.
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