The pandemic saw many employees adopting pets or spending much more time with their beloved furry friends. Many returning to the workplace are now wondering how to avoid leaving their pets at home. As an employer, recognizing employees' concerns is part of the job. So, why not give them what they want—a pet-friendly workplace.

Employers can turn their offices into pet-friendly spaces when introducing hybrid work models. Below, we discuss how you can do that as part of pet wellness benefits.

Welcoming employees and their pets back to the office

A pet-friendly workplace isn't a new concept. However, it's more in demand than ever before. Organizations have successfully provided employees with offices that welcome pets for years. And those that haven't are now under pressure to follow suit. With an increased return to the office, employees want their companies to welcome them and their pets.

After two years of no employees in the office, adding the perk of a pet-friendly workplace will sweeten the deal. We understand this isn't an easy decision. Yet, for many workers, it'll provide an added level of joy and satisfaction. However, there are right and wrong ways to create a pet-friendly office.

First, you'll follow the right set of protocols. Leaders should start by gauging employee interest. Your HR department can send an anonymous survey to all team members and get direct feedback. In most cases, there'll be a significant buy-in for the idea. However, remember to respect the voices of those against welcoming pets (this could be due to allergies or other personal reasons).

Next, determine whether your office building is welcoming of pets. Not all building owners allow animals on their premises. If you're renting office space, speak with your landlord about how you can turn it into a pet-friendly environment.

Providing a pet-friendly workplace as part of pet wellness employee benefits has been tremendously successful for others. Studies suggest pet-friendly office spaces increase employee productivity and morale. According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 90% of workers in pet-friendly environments fully engage with their work and interact positively with co-workers.

How to turn your office into a pet-friendly space

When it comes to shaping pet policies and designing a pet-friendly space, research is vital. So, how can employers offer pet-friendly work environments as part of pet wellness benefits? Let's look at the steps you need to take.

Create a pet-friendly office policy

When introducing this new employee perk, you need to have clear rules and guidelines. Consider what behaviors will be tolerated if your employees bring in a dog. Understandably, excessive barking or chewing furniture shouldn't be allowed. Perhaps you'll also want to implement a rule around using leashes or where pets can and can't go.

When making employees aware of this new pet wellness benefit, have the rules in place. This lets workers know what to expect. However, remember these rules may need to be adapted as time goes on.

Look at office design

Thoughtful planning is vital when designing employee pet wellness benefits. The same goes for pet-friendly workplaces. Do a walk-around of your office and identify any areas of concern. Are there areas that might compromise a pet's safety? Are there unintentional hazards? Additionally, look for underused spaces in the office that you could use for pet amenities.

For example, repurpose an unused corner unit as a pet hydration station or where dogs can nap. Outdoor spaces also need to be addressed. Is there an appropriate place for a pet relief area? Is there a dog park close by?

Install pet-gated areas

Many pet-friendly workplaces install pet-gated areas. This is beneficial for various reasons. Keeping pets in gated areas is excellent for their safety—it prevents them from roaming around unsupervised. It also lets employees know where they can expect to come into contact with a pet. Pet-gated areas also provide opportunities for safe play for dogs and cats. This can be particularly helpful if a coworker has a young, active puppy.

Provide outdoor spaces for exercise

As an employer, it's your responsibility to provide and identify safe outdoor spaces for your employees' pets. For example, if there's a nearby green space, give your workers a safe route they can take when bringing their dog there. It can also be helpful to provide pet parents with additional breaks in their workday to take their dogs outside for exercise and to relieve themselves.

Upgrade office furniture and décor

Along with implementing this perk as part of pet wellness benefits, you'll also need to update office furniture and décor. Provide cushions and blankets to make pets comfortable. Identify whether there's sufficient space for lounging pets in common areas. If not, you may need to replace some tables and benches.

Be aware of the materials and décor used as not all are pet friendly. For example, according to the ASPCA, certain plants can be toxic for cats and dogs. Make sure to remove these from your office space before welcoming pets. Additionally, ensure electrical cords are hidden or tucked away to prevent pets from chewing on them.

Offer other attractive pet wellness benefits

A pet-friendly workplace isn't complete without additional pet wellness benefits. Many companies accompany this perk with benefits such as pet insurance. Pet ownership costs weigh heavily on employees' minds. By giving them the option to access a pet insurance program, you'll provide your hardworking team members peace of mind in an emergency.

Wagmo isn't like traditional pet insurance companies. We offer affordable pet insurance plans with wellness add-ons. This means we cover your employees for the unexpected and the expected. With a 100% coinsurance reimbursement rate, you can play your part in helping pet parents take care of their furry friends. As well as having a cool, pet-friendly office space.

Build a pet-friendly company culture with Wagmo

Pet-friendly company cultures are highly sought after by employees, especially devoted pet parents. At Wagmo, we help employers support these workers with access to affordable pet wellness plans. Our Wagmo wellness benefits are easy to implement and provide your employees' with instant coverage.
Through membership, your company will also get access to extras, such as a Barkbox subscription and discounts for dog training. For more information on how our pet health-care benefits can support your employees, read our FAQs. Are you ready to build a pet-friendly company culture? Contact us today.