Sometimes the best co-workers are the ones who dribble on your feet, smell a little odd and are prone to giving themselves a noisy bath just as you answer the phone.
It is becoming more common for staff to be allowed to bring their pets to work – and businesses are being told it could pay off for them, too.
A recent study found US companies that allowed pets reported increased morale, reduced stress for employees, better work-life balance and more loyalty to the company.
Registered psychologist Sara Chatwin, from MindWorks, said there was evidence that showed the presence of pets was calming. “That’s why they have been introduced into some rest homes.”
Jane Kennelly runs Frog Recruitment, an Auckland firm with a host of regular canine visitors. Her company is this week launching the New Zealand’s Top Office Dog competition for this year, run via Instagram.
Kennelly said having animals in the workplace helped reduce stress, lowered employees’ heart rates, lifted morale and boosted engagement. “It brings that enjoyment and levity to the workplace and ultimately increase productivity.”
She said job-seekers who discovered they were talking to an animal-friendly employer were usually pleased to hear it. Her company had not yet researched whether people would actively look for a workplace that would allow them to bring their pets.
Kennelly recently talked to businesses employing a collective 7000 people and found about half had a regular canine visitor to their offices.
Point-of-sale software firm Vend is one firm that allows pet visitors, as a reward to staff.
“What we do is hard, so if someone wants to take a break and play ping pong, make a coffee or play with one of the dogs or cats that come in, that’s great. It’s all part of being able to be yourself at work, which we find helps people do their best work,” communications director Simon Pound said.
He said there were usually be three or more animals in the office at any time. They were more of a happiness boost than a distraction, he said.
But there are some points to consider: If the company does not own the building it might need the green light from the landlord or leasing agent to allow animals. Employees might also need to sign a liability waiver for the company to hold them accountable for any legal situations that occurred.
Owners are being warned to make sure they have enough water bowls and litter trays ready for their four-legged staff members – and to take them for regular trips outside.
Pet food brand Purina is holding its annual Pets at Work Day on August 4.