In a nutshell: Employees are more collaborative, productive and relaxed when they bring pets to work. Plus, pet-friendly policies can differentiate your company from other employers.

It’s time to let your office go to the dogs. Literally. Pet-friendly policies are a perk at some of the country’s most desirable employers, including Google and Amazon. They’re also relatively easy and inexpensive to implement at small- and medium-sized companies. As the employment market tightens and it gets more difficult to recruit and retain skilled employees, a pet-friendly workplace might just set you apart from all the other organizations competing for talent.

How do you make room for Buddy and Bella in your office? Read on.

Get Senior Leadership on Board

The people in the corner offices need to buy into the idea of making your workplace pet-friendly. This might be an easy sell if they’re pet owners — in fact, they might jump at the chance to bring their own furry friends into the office. However, if they’re not convinced, you should be prepared to make a persuasive case. We’ve already mentioned that a pet-friendly workplace could be a competitive employment advantage. Other benefits:

Check with the Landlord

If your office building doesn’t allow animals, it might be impossible to implement pet-friendly policies. Perhaps this is something that can be renegotiated when your company renews its lease.

Of course, if you own your office space, this won’t be a problem. (We’ve written about the pros and cons of owning and leasing space in a previous Business Administration Information article.)

Put a Policy in Place

Just telling people it’s OK to bring in animals could be a recipe for disaster. You’ll need to create a policy that sets limitations and expectations. Some questions to ask as you formulate your policy:

  • Do employees need to fill out an application to bring their pet to work?
  • Will all pets be allowed, or just dogs?
  • What is the weight or size limit for pets?
  • How many pets can an employee bring to work?
  • Who is responsible for cleaning up accidents?
  • Who is liable if the pet runs away?
  • What happens if a pet is not socializing well with humans and other animals?
  • What steps should be taken if an animal is distracting coworkers?
  • Which employee or department is in charge of implementing and enforcing the pet policy?

Once you have a pet policy in place, make sure you distribute it to all the employees. As with all workplace policies, revisit it regularly and update it as necessary.

Make the Workplace Work for Pets

It’s not unreasonable to ask employees to bring in their own pet supplies, such as beds and water bowls. However, as the employer, you’ll probably need to provide a place where dogs can relieve themselves. A patch of grass would be best, but there are other solutions such as artificial turf. You should also consider supplying bags for waste and a dedicated trash bin.

Mark off areas in the office where pets shouldn’t go. After all, animals are prone to shed, and you probably don’t want any fur in your server room. And, if you’ve got any kind of manufacturing area, put barriers in place to keep animals away from the machines and the noise.

Have Fun!

One of the best reasons for bringing pets into the workplace is that they put a smile on people’s faces. By using these tips, you’ll be on your way to creating a distinctive work environment where humans and animals work together to increase happiness.