If anyone in our homes has benefited from the last few months, it would be our pets.
Pet owners have reported that their dogs and cats have loved having their owners at home.
The dog population of Britain has increased by 10% to well over 11 million.
It’s thought to have been driven by a combination of people feeling lonely during lockdown and, partly due to working from home, feeling like they finally have the time to dedicate to a dog.
A dog is for life, not just for lockdown
But what’s going to happen as people start to return to the office?
Dogs Trust estimates that around 40,000 dogs are likely to be given up for rehoming.
According to research by Nature’s Menu, 1 in 3 new dog owners regret their pandemic pooch purchase and 10% of those plan to give their dog up for adoption.
All of this points to a lot of new dog owners struggling.
This situation is only set to worsen as the world opens up.
There are dog therapists springing up to give advice on how to stop dogs developing separation anxiety - a significant section of the market, given that many have never been separated from their owners.
In the dog-house
Workers who once commuted into a central office, leaving the home for 10 hours or more at a time, will have to think about what they are going to do with their new pets.
Considering the need for walks and toilet times, many dogs simply can’t be left alone all day: the RSPCA recommends dogs should not be left alone for more than fours hours at a time.
But this is something that managers should concern themselves with as well. After all, you’re unlikely to get the best out of your employee if they're busy worrying about whether Fido is pawing at the front door.
One obvious solution would be remote work, allowing dog owners to work from home.
But most organisations seem to be planning on adopting hybrid work - a mixture of in-office and WFH.
There are many upsides to this, including allowing colleagues to collaborate, maintain company culture and retain the social benefits of work.
But for the dog owner this may leave them in a pickle.
Work like a dog
There’s a couple of reasons why this makes sense from a company point of view (aside from, you know, liking to have cute animals around).
Most obviously, it’s a company perk that will make your business stand out from the others.
In addition, allowing people to take their canine companions to work is almost like providing them with a living stress blanket: preliminary research shows that people with dogs at work will become less stressed throughout the day.
Finally, it will increase interactions between colleagues (there’s even scientific evidence to prove that people will aww over dogs).
But it’s not suitable for every organisation.
For one thing, having pets around the workplace may not fit the company brand. How many 100-year-old law firms do you see with a dalmatian under the desk?
There’s also health and safety implications to consider, from emergency evacuations to what happens in the event of an accident.
Finally, not all your employees will be happy with this change. With dog allergies and with almost one in 20 people suffering from fear of dogs (or cynophobia, if you’re being fancy), you may want to let sleeping dogs lie with this one.
You can teach an old dog new tricks
One alternative to keep everyone happy is to look into flexible workspace options. This allows people to work outside the home and with colleagues - but if it’s close to home they’ll be able to nip back at lunch time and take pup out for a walk.
Plus, many of these spaces are pet friendly (which usually means dog friendly...although you are welcome to ring up about your budgie if you like).
On Desana we have a filter to allow people to find spaces that are pet friendly and don’t require prior notice. (And we also have a filter for spaces that don’t allow pets for those cynophobes.)
All of this fuss over fur babies may be really tempting to dismiss as unimportant. But considering that more than 6 out of 10 people would choose their pet over their partner, it only makes sense to think about accommodating one of the most important relationships in your employees’ lives.
Want to find out more about offering your employees choice? Book a no-strings-attached demo to have a chat about how Desana works.