Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pets in the workplace

Hero has placed himself in the diary, ensuring he is prioritised over any work planned...(note the bath mat has been placed on the desk to prevent Hero from jumping onto said desk, skidding along the surface and falling off the other side).

Have you ever taken your non-human companion to work? Increasingly, people can answer this question in the affirmative. But there may be mixed answers to the follow-on: how did it go?

While here at SAT we support companion animals in the workplace, there are some qualifications. The big one is that the animal themselves needs to enjoy the experience – otherwise, there really is no point. I know, for example, that if I took Hero into work he would literally have a hissy fit, and let’s face it, he’s a disruptive kind of guy (yesterday when I worked from home, he sat on my desk and ripped apart my to do list with his teeth). He’s much happier ruling his own turf all day while I earn the dough to keep him in the lifestyle to which he is accustomed. Ditto the guinea pigs. They’re kinda introverted and would not appreciate interactions with unfamiliar humans (although they love it when I work from home).

There are other factors to consider: do you have colleagues who are allergic to animals? What about toilet training (of the companion animals, we hope the colleagues are competent)? Can you ensure they get regular breaks? How are multiple animals managed?

This article from Scientific American tackles some of those tougher areas. It’s not against pets in the workplace, but does argue that such arrangements need to be carefully considered. After all, it won’t help anyone if the arrangement is unsatisfactory and results in a negative outcome. The lesson to be learned is, if you’re going to organise a program like this, make sure it’s done well so that everyone (non-human and human) benefits.


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