Forget juggling childcare – doggy daycare is an issue that many pet owners struggle with every day when they go to work.
However, we've found more and more companies allow dogs in the office. And some even offer workplace benefits for pets and their owners. We've listed some of the most interesting companies and perks.
In the USA, some businesses provide pet insurance as part of a benefits package.
Although UK firms don't seem to be offering it yet, you can check out the best pet insurance policies in the UK to compare cover or have a look at our unique pet insurance - we recently won Most Trusted Pet Insurance Provider at the Moneywise awards as voted for by thousands of pet owners.
It's worth considering or learning about liability cover if you're taking a dog into an unfamiliar environment, it can cover legal costs if your pet injures someone or damages property.
Companies in the UK that allow dogs in the office and offer other pet benefits
- Blue Cross
- Pets At Home
Brewdog, a Scottish beer company offers one weeks 'paw-ternity leave' for new puppy owners.
It works in a similar way to paternity leave - Brewdog allows new owners to take a week of paid leave to help their puppy get settled at home. Brewdog is based in Aberdeenshire and plans to open an office in Ohio in America soon. Employees on both sides of the pond will be able to take pawternity leave.
The company says it was founded by two men and a dog, and four-legged friends are allowed in its offices. There are more than 50 office dogs at its headquarters! You can see some of them here.
Research shows just how important pawternity leave is – Petplan revealed in 2012 that 1 in 5 pet owners would be willing to take three weeks of their holiday to spend time with their dogs.
So offering this perk could be a great employment incentive.
BitSol, a Manchester-based tech company, also offers a week’s paid holiday for new pet owners.
Mars, the chocolate bar and pet food giant, encourages office dogs and offers 10 hours of paid leave for employees who get a new pooch.
It was one of the first businesses to offer paid leave for pet owners and also provides a dog park for employees and the wider community.
At the Blue Cross, dogs have always been welcome and at the RSPCA dogs can be found relaxing alongside employees at their large head office in Horsham, West Sussex.
Pets at Home and Nestle, owners of Purina, also have a ‘bring your dog to work' scheme.
Nestle has a dog park, aptly named Central Bark. In the office, dogs can enjoy lounging around on cushions and chomping on toys and treats. Their leads are secured to large metal hoops on the floor.
Nestle has even compiled a Pets at Work toolkit that it shares with other companies.
Can having a dog in the office help the workplace?
Having a dog around can make you feel great. Stroking a pet releases oxytocin into the bloodstream – this is nicknamed the ‘love’ hormone, and makes you feel good. It can reduce stress levels and increase levels of happiness, which should lead to increased productivity.
Studies in Industrial and Organisational Psychology at Central Michigan University have revealed that dogs can increase group bonding, promoting a feeling of togetherness and help prevent burnout.
They can also increase levels of trust between people and encourage conversation. Of course, pet lovers already knew this. How else can dogs help?
- Having a dog in the office means you have to take it for a walk. This gets you away from your desk and gives you some exercise.
- It also means you can spend more time on projects without feeling pressure to rush off home at 5pm to be reunited with your pet.
- Dogs in the workplace can make it feel like ‘home from home’, breaking down the work/home barriers.
- Pets can help with team bonding as colleagues often can’t resist the temptation of a doe-eyed pooch staring at them. Forget the after-work pub drinks – just bring in the pet pooch!
- And, of course, having your dog with you stops it getting lonely at home while you’re at work all day. And if taking your pet to work replaces doggy daycare, it can save a fortune.
It's been suggested that offering pet perks is now becoming a way of attracting the right workforce. As more millennials choose their career and pet ownership over settling down early, pet perks can really help make a difference when recruiting.
Pets at work policies in America
So what about in America? It seems their pet policies are even more imaginative than ours. These perks will make you paws for thought:
Salesforce, a software provider, has a special room for their dog employees – it features water bowls, dog beds and padded cages. Owners can also enjoy pet insurance discounts, dog walking supplies and vet house calls.
And Build a Bear isn’t only about cute teddies, it holds puppy parties with treats and even grooming and day camps for dogs. As you'd expect, dogs are welcome in the office.
Zynga, a games developer, has a rooftop dog park and doggy treats, depending on where you’re located. It also offers pet insurance.
Google isn't missing out on the action - it allows pet owners to bring their dogs to work and has a dog-themed café on-site inspired by the company’s first dog, a Leonberger named Yoshka.
Amazon offers dog biscuits at its reception, has dog-height water fountains and a dog park. It's even got a building named after the first dog that worked for it - Rufus, a corgi owned by a husband and wife team in the early Amazon days. Amazon takes its dog policy seriously, with more than 4,000 people registered to bring their dog to work. The three most popular dog breeds at its offices are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Labradoodles.
In the US, Mars is just as pet-friendly as in the UK. It welcomes dozens of dogs to work and some offices also offer perks like pet feeding and boarding for travelling employees.
What about taking other pets to work?
We found that Pixelkeet a graphic design and web development company allows birds in its office. Birds can be seen sitting on top of cages and roaming around in hamster balls.
We couldn't find any companies that allow cats, reptiles or small furries in the workplace.
Some US companies also offer paid time off for pet bereavement, which can help owners to get through a difficult time.
Acknowledgment of a pet’s death by those who surround us is key to our recovery. For businesses, a pet bereavement policy could be added to an employment package to demonstrate empathy.
Pet insurance as a perk
As far as company perks go, pet insurance is one of the fastest growing benefits that US companies offer. Over 5,000 companies including Xerox, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Ikea and Yahoo now offer pet insurance discounts as a work perk, according to Fortune.
Discounts can range from 5% to 90%.
What are the downsides of allowing pets into the office?
For those who suffer from pet allergies (over 20% of the UK population ), a pet in the office can make work a miserable place. In addition, some people are scared of dogs and exposing them to our canine friends wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for them.
Also, office managers need to consider what to do if a dog bites someone, fights, or goes to the toilet in the office. They could also steal food out of office bins or bark at other dogs.
If you're considering allowing staff to bring in pets, policies need to be put in place. It's likely you’ll need to buy liability insurance in case your dog bites someone.
Many of the businesses mentioned in this article have policies to create a happy environment for all employees and pets. This includes making sure people are happy for others to bring in dogs, ensuring dogs are well trained and toilet trained.