Numerous studies have found the benefits of having a dog-friendly workplace (like this one from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management), leading to more companies considering changing their policies. But before you open your doors to man’s best friend, you should consider the impact this move could have on your organizational culture. Here are six steps toward making sure that changing your policy won’t be a bust.
1. Check the legality
Adopting a pet-friendly policy could lead to legal issues, according to Inc. magazine. For example, who would cover personal injury if a pet attacked one of your employees? One way to avoid this is to ask all employees whether they have pet insurance.
2. Ask employees what they think
Although many people support dog-friendly policies, that may not be the case in your workplace. There may be a large number of people with allergies or who are afraid of dogs. See if there’s demand before moving forward.
3. Get the necessary approvals
If you think employees would welcome a dog-friendly policy, you’ll need to seek approval from your company's board. Also, check with your landlord to see if pets are allowed in the building.
4. Make the workplace safe for everyone
Most companies include limits to keep the dog-friendly experiment contained. Some items you should consider include:
A pet-free zone for employees who’d prefer not to be around dogs. Conversely, you could limit dogs to one part of the office
Requiring gates or leashes so that dogs are confined to specific places
An outdoor space for dogs to use that won’t interfere with business
Pet-proofing the office by covering electrical cords and moving expensive equipment to a secure area
5. Draft the policy
Creating a written policy will ensure that you have control over the pets in the workplace. You’ll want to consider whether you limit the number of dogs. Cloud computing company Salesforce allows six dogs at a time to join their owners at work, while pet insurer Petplan allows five.
Alternatively, many companies, such as VMware, have created registries to ensure that all dogs are up to date on vaccinations. Here’s a useful list of vaccinations from Trupanion.
6. Ask employees what they think
Wait, wasn’t that number 2?
It’s important to ask employees before and after the dog policy is implemented, especially in the first few months. While some employees may think it’s a good idea in theory, they may change their minds when their office chairs are covered in fur.
For example, Koyal Wholesale, a wedding supply company, enacted a dog-friendly policy only to reverse it four months later. The company saw a slight decrease productivity after implementing the policy, according to Fast Company.
Bringing dogs into the workplace is something many companies are pursuing and could make your employees happier. But treading carefully before changing your company’s policy is the best way to go.