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Is having an office pet a good idea?

Employers are rightly paying much more attention nowadays to the morale and wellbeing of their staff. There are many reasons for this: a greater awareness of the impact that emotional wellbeing can have on productivity and a general awareness of the importance of mental health are just a couple of these reasons. Then there is the need to promote an attractive employer brand. Highlighting the personality and authenticity of a brand in a way that makes the office look like a welcoming place to work is another is very much the done thing.

From unlimited tea and coffee to ‘Dress-down Days’ to free pizza or cake in the office, companies all over the country are doing their bit. Growing in popularity and becoming all the more common – inspired by giants such as Google and Amazon perhaps – is the trend of allowing employees to bring their pets into work.

But is having an office pet a good idea?

The Pros

Lower stress levels

The most obvious benefit – well backed up with research – is that having pets in the office makes people feel more relaxed and comfortable and lowers stress levels. In one comparable study individuals who did not bring pets into work with them exhibited increased signs of stress as the day wore on. The opposite was true for those who brought their dogs to work with them

Events such as Bring Your Dog to Work Day are becoming more popular and are raising the profile of allowing pets in the office.

Boosts morale

A pet-friendly workplace boosts morale and employee satisfaction. Pets are a point of common interest that promote social interaction, as well as building a sense of teamwork and togetherness.

Pets serve as a break to the normal routine and offer the opportunity to gain therapeutic benefits at any point during the day. Simply petting an animal can lower heart rate and blood pressure.

For visitors, seeing pets in the office can make people (and the company) appear more friendly and approachable. Finally, the office pet will prove to be an icebreaker and a conversation starter.

The cons

But before you all become members of the ‘Let’s get an office pet’ club, it would be wise to consider that doing so is not a 100% win-win situation.

An unwelcome distraction

The office pet might well be a welcome distraction – a few minutes of relaxation during the work day – but there’s a danger that pets can become too distracting. When it gets to the point that productivity is affected, you begin to view it very much as an unwelcome distraction

Not everyone is an animal lover

Strange as it may seem to those particularly enamoured with our cuddly friends, not everybody is an animal lover. When you have a worker in the office who can take them or leave them, this is not a major problem. However, when allergies or phobias come into play, you do have a problem. Similarly, the smell of a pet is, shall we say – an acquired taste?

Ultimately, having an office pet (or pets!) will be ideal for some companies – but it’s a big decision to make and one that should not be taken lightly.