If you were one of the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who spent lockdown working from home, you’ve already had a taste of what it’s like to be able to spend all day with your pets.

Of course, the internet had loads of fun showing off their fluffy new colleagues. During the course of the pandemic, the Instagram page Dogs Working from Home chronicled the lives of some of the world’s professional pups as their owners worked (and goofed off) at home:

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“Sorry guys, couldn’t take myself off mute”

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But working in your dog’s presence isn’t just fun – science says it’s good for you too!

In 2012, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Human-Animal Interaction found that people who brought their pets to work experienced significantly reduced stress levels and heightened productivity. 

According to the study, “These [positive] results were consistent across a wide range of departments, from traditional white-collar fields such as sales and marketing to blue-collar sectors such as manufacturing.”

The big dogs are leading the way

Each year the online platform for pet sitters and dog walkers, Rover, ranks the world’s top pet-friendly offices. It’s no surprise that, in 2019, some of the highest ranking companies were also some of the world’s biggest: Uber, Airbnb and Google all featured, while the e-commerce giant Amazon took the cake – or doggy treat – and topped the list due to the incredible dog-friendly benefits they offer the 50,000 employees at their headquarters in Seattle.

Over 6,000 dogs are registered at the campus and can enjoy an on-site dog park, pup water fountains, an entire floor designated as a ‘doggy deck’, along with complimentary poop bags and treats available at each reception area.

If that isn’t enough, the pups even have their own ‘boss’, Woof Pack Manager Lara Hirschfield, who is responsible for planning dog-friendly activities, like Barktoberfest for Halloween. According her, the dog-friendly culture is a major draw for top talent, inspires collaboration, and contributes to the overall culture.

Popping the big question

While your company probably can’t compete with the out-of-this-world benefits offered by one of the world’s biggest companies, you can always scale the concept to fit your unique office situation. Here are a few tips on how to approach your boss to increase your chance of success:

  • Organize a committee. Just like Amazon’s Woof Pack Manager, someone will need to manage the office hounds (and their owners — who might be even more unruly than their pups) to ensure rules are enforced, grievances and feedback are monitored, and pets are registered.
  • Focus on how it will benefit the company. While your boss should be invested in employee well-being, your argument can’t be based on your personal feelings about your pooch. Do extensive research into how a pet-friendly workplace benefits overall workplace culture, and go in armed with facts and figures.
  • Be open to compromise. Before committing to a pet-friendly workplace, start with a Bring Your Dog to Work Day to test the waters. If it goes well, you can suggest designated dog-days, then a trial period, before going full-on pet-friendly.
  • Be realistic. If you work on the 7th floor of an office building with no green spaces or areas that can be designated for dogs, it may be logistically impossible for employees to bring their dogs to work.

The dark side of a pet-friendly workplace

While bringing your pet to work is great for pup-parents and dog-lovers, there can be some downsides that you should consider before introducing the idea.

  • It can become a second job (that you probably won’t get paid for). Managing administrative duties like ensuring all dogs are sterilized, vaccinated, and house-trained is a big task to stay on top of. Are you up for the challenge?
  • Managing allergies. If someone in your workplace is allergic to dander, they’ll display symptoms like hives, wheezing, itchy eyes and congestion even if the pup is nowhere near them. While a pet-friendly workplace is great for the culture, leaving some of your co-workers in a constant state of suffering is a high price to pay.
  • Dogs can be distracting. Whether a mess needs to be cleaned up, a pup needs to be walked, or there’s noise from whining and barking, dogs can be distracting for the entire office. This is why a designated doggy area is ideal.
  • A delicate legal balance. While indemnity forms will protect the company in the case of injuries, South African law states that a pet owner is financially responsible for any damage their pet does to another person or property. Our Third-Party Liability benefit will protect your finances, but it can’t stop your company culture from taking a hit if there’s an incident.
  • There might be some damage. As any dog owner knows, there will almost certainly be some damage. Even if the pup population is generally well-behaved, accidents do happen. Designated doggy areas are a good way to keep pups (and office equipment) safe, but not all offices have the space for such areas.

Whether you’re bringing your pup to work or leaving your loving at home, get your pets covered with insurance that really cares. Get a quote from dotsure.co.za in under 3 minutes today.