Would a furry friend sitting under a colleague’s desk ease stress or cause distraction?

That’s just one of many questions employers have to consider when it comes to deciding whether to welcome pets to the workplace. Issues can range from the minor, like dogs knocking over coffee cups, to the serious, such as co-workers suffering from severe phobias of certain animals. But with 41 per cent of Canadian households home to at least one dog, making allowances for pets could be a popular benefit with employees.

At Amazon.com Inc. many dogs regularly “help out,” according its website. Employees were so fond of the inaugural office dog, Rufus, that the company named one of its corporate buildings in Seattle after him.

Read: A look at Mars’ pet-friendly workplace policies

GoDaddy Operating Co. has a chief companion officer in its executive suite: a puppy named Buddy the company adopted in 2015. Other pet-friendly policies include a pet therapy program at three of the company’s locations and an employee volunteer program to cover shifts at local animal shelters.

Apart from such efforts to make the office a friendlier place, spending time with pets has many potential health benefits. Pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can also increase physical activity by encouraging employees to take breaks by walking or playing with pets.

The presence of pets can cause problems for some employees, however. Allergies, bacteria and viruses, trips and falls, bites, general phobia and cultural sensitives are all factors to consider, according to another study by the U.S. health protection agency.

Read: Employee benefits now include gourmet pet food

Apart from the health benefits, pet-friendly policies can be a huge practical help to owners. “You don’t have to feel guilty leaving your dog alone all day long or rush home to let the dog out or pay for dog walking services, which can be quite pricey. It’s great socialization for the dogs and a wonderful training opportunity,” says Olivia D’Orazio, a content marketing manager at Brainrider Inc., a Toronto marketing agency that allows employees to bring in their dogs. 

“It’s also helpful if you’re bringing a puppy home for the first time; you don’t have to worry about the pup developing separation anxiety or rushing home for mid-day feedings,” she says.

Given the various issues, do the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace outweigh the potential hassles? Have your say in our weekly poll.

Last week, Benefits Canada looked at a company that requires a core five-hour workday in the office but otherwise lets employees chose when and where to work. The online poll asked whether that was a realistic approach to workplace flexibility. The majority (79 per cent) of respondents said the policy strikes the right balance, while 21 per cent said it’s hard to do business when staff are working scattered hours and at different locations.

Read: B.C. company bests flexible working with five-hour workday

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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Bruce McGuffin:

Wwwwhat? Where do you draw the line? Parrots, goats, snakes, bear cubs, cute pandas?

Tuesday, September 12 at 2:03 pm | Reply

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