Dog-Friendly Workplaces May Just Encourage Remote Workers to Come Back to the Office

Employees resistant to return-to-office policies may come back for one reason: to be with their dogs. Allowing dogs in the workplace could motivate talent to return and benefit both employers and employees. Dogs create a friendly vibe in the office. As return-to-work plans are made, employers should consider being dog-friendly workplaces. This small change could help win back reluctant remote employees. The presence of dogs can encourage social cohesion.

It’s surprising why not many employers are allowing this when some hospitals even have service dogs roaming around like they’re part of the staff. Research shows dogs in the workplace provide benefits for employee retention and satisfaction. A 2021 study by the prestigious National Center for Biotechnology Information found employees view pet-friendly policies as a privilege and have a more positive view of the company. 

An American Heart Association survey showed over 50% of dog owners prefer to bring pets to work. And if you want to attract millennials to come back to work, consider that up to 71% of Gen Z and 48% of millennials also want to bring their dogs to the office. Millennials make up the largest percentage of pet owners at 33 percent. As many of them also live alone, they can be distracted at work if their dogs are all alone in their apartments. 

A recent study by Cesar also revealed that a staggering 87% of dog-friendly employers noticed a positive impact on their employees and the likelihood of them returning to the office.

While federal law does not prohibit pets in the workplace, employers look at the potential legal implications before implementing dog-friendly policies. Employers are worried about nuisance or damage that a dog could cause in a working environment. To mitigate risk, companies may want to require proof of obedience training or temperament testing. Policies can also limit areas accessible to dogs and require supervision by owners.

With some precautions, employers can reap the benefits of dog-friendly offices while also protecting against legal concerns. The decision remains at the employer’s discretion based on their specific situation and risk tolerance.

To successfully implement dog-friendly policies, employers and employees must take steps to ensure a positive experience for all. Dog owners may fully trust their pets to behave appropriately, but employers retain liability for any nuisance or damage caused. 

San Jose environment is pet-friendly

Fortunately, office structures in San Jose have grounds and lawns. It’s also not unusual to see semi-outdoor offices in Mountain View.

It’s up to employers to set some “house rules.” They should designate dog-only areas, provide amenities like waste stations and open communication channels about any issues. Employees must also prepare dogs for the office environment, so as not to be a nuisance. 

Essential commands like sit, stay and recall are key. Well-behaved dogs will prevent problems that could lead to policy changes.

With some adjustments by both parties, dogs in the workplace can be a win-win for company culture and employee satisfaction.

With clear employee demand and retention advantages, employers should consider implementing or extending dog-friendly policies as part of return-to-work planning, because bringing dogs to the office can have the following effects:

Increased employee satisfaction and morale. Having dogs around can make the office environment more fun and relaxed. Employees appreciate the chance to have their companions with them.

Improved mental health and reduced stress. Interacting with pets has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. Pets can have a calming influence and give employees a mental break.

Increased physical activity. Employees who bring dogs tend to take more walking breaks for pet exercise needs. This contributes to better health.

Enhanced creativity. Having the office dog generates a more innovative environment. Spontaneous pet interactions can give employees’ minds a chance to refresh.

Improved collaboration and communication. Dogs can spark conversations and connections between colleagues. People gather around cute pets which facilitates bonding.

Better employee retention. Dog-friendly policies show that a company values employee satisfaction. This helps retain talented staff long-term.

Reflects company culture. Allowing dogs signal to potential hires that the company offers an open, flexible, and caring work environment.

For dogs coming from another country

Now if your talent is bringing their dog from another country, that’s an entirely different thing.

Where has your dog been in the past 6 months? That’s the foremost question you’ll be asked when you’re bringing in your dog from your country to the United States. Two government institutions, the USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service  and the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) also have some guidelines that are essential reading.

Some of these guidelines include the following:

  • Appear healthy upon arrival
  • Provide English documentation

Dogs from low-risk countries:

  • No vaccination proof required
  • Must provide a statement the dog has been in a low-risk country for 6+ months

Dogs from high-risk countries:

  • Must be at least 6 months old
  • Have valid rabies vaccination certificate and microchip
  • Arrive at 1 of 18 designated airports if vaccinated in the US (Option A)
  • Get CDC permit if foreign vaccinated (max 2 dogs) and arrive at designated airport (Option B)
  • Have reservation at approved facility for exam, vacc, quarantine if no US certificate (Option C)

Global mobility professionals suggest foreign assignees bring all documentation when traveling — vaccination records, titer results, CDC permit, or facility reservation.

Service dogs for employees with disabilities 

People with disabilities are allowed to bring their service dogs with them, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, employee phobias or allergies may also qualify as disabilities under the ADA. This can create a dilemma for employers expected to accommodate conflicting needs.

In these scenarios, employers should have open discussions with both employees to explore potential solutions. Options could include separation, air purifiers, hygiene protocols, or alternate work arrangements. The goal should be balancing accommodations while avoiding undue hardship to company operations.

Service animal access is a right but not unconditional. Employers must thoughtfully assess each situation to provide reasonable accommodations for all under the ADA. (Dennis Clemente)