How Important Are Pets in the Office for a Successful Return?

| Jodie Otter MSW

With the increase in pandemic puppies and changes to the business landscape in general, dogs at work have become a big part of the everyday 9-to-5.


As companies and their workers evaluate the great return to the office in a post COVID-19 world, millions are reassessing their relationship with their jobs and re-evaluating their priorities: How much time do they want to spend commuting to an office? Should they switch careers? What does their ideal work situation look like?

What Happens to the Pandemic Puppies?

An unexpected effect of the pandemic posed an additional question: what happens to all of the pandemic puppies? In 2020, the country saw a surge in pet adoptions. Staying at home during the pandemic inspired approximately 12.6 million households to adopt a pet since the COVID outbreak in March 2020.

For many, the pandemic spurred them to adopt a pet for the first time, with the added benefit of discovering how comforting pets can be in an emotionally charged period. Not only did the pandemic spur the adoptions, but the result has been that existing pets have formed a new dynamic with their owners in which they rarely leave their side, but for new adoptions, they may never have lived in a world where they were separated from their owner.

This worry about separation anxiety has only grown in time. For example, in the summer of 2020, a survey of 3,000 pet owners found that 20% worried about their pet’s separation anxiety. Then, as vaccinations to fight the virus began to appear in the spring of 2021, another survey found this fear shared by 69%.

In a recent study, 67% of dog owners reported that they will consider moving to a different company if they can no longer work remotely. However, of these same dog owners, 78% said they would continue working at their company if they could bring their pets to work. This particularly affects Gen Z pet owners, with studies finding that as many as 71% plan to or have reached out to their employers requesting they implement pet-friendly policies as they return to the office.

Say Hello to Four-Legged Coworkers

So, how are companies trying to stand out from the pack by allowing dogs in the office? While your pup may not be able to offer any valuable sales tactics, allowing them into the office may help recruit and retain talent. When asked in a survey, "How has the pandemic affected your thoughts on pet-friendly businesses?", 52% of respondents reported feeling more supportive of pet-friendly businesses, and94% were supportive of allowing pets in the workplace.

Due to this growing support, employers are beginning to express interest in letting four-footed friends join their owners in the office. Large organizations, like Google and Amazon, have even used their dog-friendly policies to recruit new employees. And now, smaller companies are following suit.

The meaning of the term "pet friendly" is quickly expanding. While some employers may allow you to bring your pet into the office, others may also offer pet insurance, paw-ternity time, pet bereavement, or stipends for pet care. Companies may even find themselves on a list of the best dog-friendly places to work.

Man's Best Friend Is Also Man's Best Coworker

The job benefits go far beyond creating a much more adorable staff in your office. Whether we like it or not, spending too much time on a problem or a project can reduce worker productivity and increase stress levels. This is where pets can come in to help.

No matter if it's a short walk, a quick playtime, or just to say "Hello!", our pets remind us to take a moment to breathe and step back from whatever we are involved in for the time being. These mental breaks can help workers to refresh and return to a project or problem with a new eye and a relief from their stress.

Let's be honest; the all-around positivity that our pets inspire is infectious! Major companies are taking notice of how pets in the workplace can build great morale and add some humor to the workday. For example, Etsy, which has allowed pets in the office since 2005, uses pets to help raise spirits and add a little comic relief. The research continues to show that pets have calming effects on humans, including reducing blood pressure, lowering stress, and helping make employees more cordial and productive during the workday.

Tail Wag Worthy Employee Benefits

Is your office ready to take the leap into becoming pet-friendly? It may be easier to do than you think. But, before you and your favorite four-legged friend decide to start life as coworkers, learn how to set your workplace up for success by downloading our do-it-yourself Dogs at Work guide.

Take some of the stress out of pet ownership with Accident & Illness Coverage from AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company). Our pet insurance plans are designed to be there when you need them, allowing you to focus more on the health of your pet and less on costly veterinary bills. Click here for a quote today!

jodie otter
Jodie Otter MSW

As an avid fan of all things that meow or bark, Jodie uses her expertise in human and animal health to have a positive impact on the well-being of pets and their owners. Jodie lives in Durham, NC with her cat, "Noodle", and two dogs, "Lilly" and "Clementine".


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