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16th October 2019 | 4 min read
Remember when someone’s pet made a thrillingly incongruous appearance at your primary school? Perhaps it was for some sort of demonstration, or a show and tell. Or maybe it was the last day of term, when all the established rules of primary school conduct tended to go out the window.
However it happened, we’re willing to bet that everyone lost their minds with giddy excitement. For some reason the appearance of a lovable animal in the traditionally pet-free environs of a school classroom always has a crazily destabilising effect. A DOG! HERE! IN SCHOOL?!
We’re not here to analyse this phenomenon, but we can confidently report that it isn’t limited to primary schools. The same hysterical excitement is liable to erupt in an office – staffed by adult professionals – in the event that an adorable dog guilelessly trots in. For some reason people tend to delight in the incongruous presence of an animal in their workplace.
All of which is a roundabout way to introduce an increasingly common phenomenon – pets at work.
The notion of pet-friendly workplaces has become increasingly pervasive in recent years, to the extent that there’s now a Take your Dog to Work Day (it was the 21st June this year, in. case you’re wondering) and a Take your Pet to Work Week (June 17-21).
The reasoning behind our increasing receptiveness to the acceptability of pets at work seems to centre on the notion that animals have unique stress busting powers. And who knows, perhaps that impending sector report deadline would be a little bit less nerve-wracking if the receptionist’s bichon frise was trotting happily around the office while you anxiously await sign-off from the CFO?
So, providing your boss is on board with the possibility of pet positive work environments, what do you need to keep in mind if you’re planning on introducing your four-legged pal to the stresses and strains of the workplace?
However much you love spending quality time with your pet, it’s important to be realistic about their capacity to hang out in your workplace without disrupting you and your colleagues. Give some serious thought to your pet’s behaviour – is it immaculately house trained? Can it settle happily for long periods of time without causing a fuss? Is it liable to start howling within earshot of a critical client meeting? Does it jump up excitedly whenever anyone approaches?
If you bring a pet into work you need to recognise that it’s 100% your responsibility. However immersed you are in your work you’ll need to have some peripheral awareness of where they are and what they’re doing. If you intend to make a habit of bringing your pet to work you might want to install a baby gate or some other barrier to keep them safely confined in your space.
If you want to keep an animal around it’s wise to take precautions to prevent them from chewing on wires or mistaking a memory card for an edible treat. Ultimately, you’ll need to take extra care to ensure that everything’s neatly tucked away beyond the reach of your pet.
However adorable your pet is, your workmates will quickly lose patience with it if it’s anything less than impeccably groomed. An winning personality only goes so far if your beloved pet has body odour issues or tends to leave a trail of much paw print wherever it goes.
Again, your pet is your responsibility, so make sure you’re fully equipped to take care of its every need. This means you’re duty bound to bring along all the food, water, treats, toys and medications you and your pet might need over the course of the working day
Hopefully your colleagues will be delighted by the prospect of a pet tagging along for the day, but don’t assume anything. However confident you are that your companion will be safely contained in your workspace it’s only reasonable to make sure everyone’s okay with the idea. Allergies are a real issue, so try to ensure that a fun day out for your pet isn’t going to make a workmate’s life a misery.
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