Over a year which has seen personal and work lives collide on an unprecedented scale, will bringing your dog to work be the norm post-pandemic?

According to reports from the BBC in March, 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet during the pandemic – given the greater amount of time people have been spending in their homes.

Almost three-quarters of the people surveyed stated that having a pet during lockdown helped their mental health whilst coping with lockdown restrictions.

It seems this is a trend which could have a wider impact on the workplace – with almost half of Londoners (48 per cent) and two-fifths of people nationwide saying that they would like a pet in the office, according to research by GoCompare.

HRreview asked professionals about whether this should be permitted and, if so, how this can achieved smoothly.

Claire Crompton, Co-founder and Director of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab explains the positive effects that pets in the office can bring in terms of wellbeing:

We’ve always been firm believers in allowing dogs in the office. In our experience, having a pet bounding around the office has certainly made everyone feel more relaxed and less stressed, along with instant improvements to employee satisfaction and morale.

Pets instantly brighten your day and they’re a great way to connect with people you probably would have never spoken to. A dog in the office is also a great way to get people out for a lunchtime walk – which does everyone a world of good!

However, Suzanne Hurndall, Relationship Director at hr inspire, explained that whilst her company is pro-pets in the office, it also has ground rules to ensure this is a pleasurable experience for all staff:

We have now extended our office pet policy to allow all employees to bring in their dogs however, under certain conditions to ensure it is agreeable for all members of staff.

Employees pets must have had a ‘doggie induction’ first which involves staff bringing their dog in to the office for a morning or afternoon to check everyone is comfortable with it. If the dog passes the induction then it is welcome every day. We only allow two dogs in on any one day though, and the dog must be trained, and no doggie treats are allowed at desks.

Ms. Hurndall warns that this should be carefully considered before instated due to the complications that can arise:

However, bringing dogs and pets to work does not work for all businesses.

Employee allergies and phobias are very real as some individuals may not be allowed to be around certain animals. Dog allergies can, in some individual’s cases, be very severe. There is also the fact that some phobias can be deeply ingrained, and employers may need to think about pet-free zones if possible.

It is your duty as an employer to make sure all your staff are comfortable and taken care of, not just the animal lovers.

As such, research by GoCompare lists the practicalities employers and staff alike should consider before introducing a dog to the office:

  • Travel allowances – The Highway Code says dogs must not be let out on the road alone and that you must secure your dog properly in order for them to travel safely in your car. Does the dog need a harness or pet carrier before you can travel?
  • Employee relations – Considering the impact that bringing a dog in could have on other colleagues, from all points of health and safety.
  • Office morale – Making sure that the dog is not too stressed out by a variety of unfamiliar people. The research recommends setting up a calm space they can relax in while they’re at work with you.
  • Health and safety – Ensuring the dog has access drinking water and an outdoor space where you can take it for regular toilet breaks. This may need a risk assessment.
  • Exit strategy – If the dog does not acclimatise well to the environment, the owner needs to ensure they have the time and schedule to take the dog home again.