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Work-Life Balance: Fur Better or Fur Worse? - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Fur Better or Fur Worse?

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Fur Better or Fur Worse?

A movement in recent years to make pet-friendly workplaces cites office studies pointing to increased productivity, decreased stress, and better overall attitudes about work. Employees who bring their furry friends to the office say the comfort a beloved pet offers is practically immeasurable, that it helps obscure the line separating our work and our homes, which can also contribute to a better feeling about how work influences everything else in our lives.

Some offices just dip their toes into the doggie dish, introducing monthly or weekly pet days, so that having dogs in the office is not an everyday assumption but a special event, kind of like casual Fridays. Others adopt one or two dogs, owned by someone in the office, as everyday office dogs, so that people aren’t bringing their own pets to work, but have ready access to a wagging tail when they need one. A few workplaces fling the doors wide open, letting dogs and their owners negotiate such issues as space, pecking order, and socialization. The lunch hour becomes the get-out-and-walk hour, and once the office hounds become acquainted, their run of the premises becomes as normal as having multiple dogs in the same living room.

The decision to allow dogs at work can’t always be made casually. Puppies under one year of age, especially big ones, can be enormously disruptive, not having learned yet how to be kept calm. The last thing your office visitors need is to be leapt upon, snarled at, or otherwise intimidated by an overly protective young canine. Dogs inclined toward separation anxiety can make a simple thing like running to the restroom a howling adventure. Doting owners might consider their overly yappy dogs cute, but nobody else likes an obnoxiously vocal diva dog. And some people are simply not dog people. Even dog lovers might take exception to the presence of overly playful or vocal buddies in the next cubicle, finding it difficult to focus on their jobs. Take the pulse of everyone in the office as you bring the issue up, and be careful not to let anyone feel like the villain if there are allergy sufferers or canine-phobic team members.

Then there are issues completely out of your company’s hands, such as rules set by the property management, or dog-unfriendly environs outside the building. Your warm and fuzzy office might be great for humans, but their dogs need to get fresh air, exercise, and a few moments of privacy. Make sure your dog-bringers can adequately attend to their pets’ needs without violating any public or private property laws. Double-check your landlord’s policies before you even mention aloud that you’re considering allowing pets.

Like a hundred other really cool things about great workplaces, a new policy about allowing pets can be an obstacle course for only the very nimble and powerful, but keeping everyone’s sensitivities and passions in mind, it can be negotiated, and perhaps a few waggy tails and cold noses are another step your organization can take toward helping your team keep things in balance.


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Work-Life Balance: Fur Better or Fur Worse? - Executive Leadership Articles

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