We occasionally get asked if we are a dog friendly office provider, and contrary to perceived popular trends, we have a no dogs policy in all our buildings. Whilst it’s a great social media asset to have lovely dogs in and around an office, there are so many more practical things to consider, such as: barking, mess, chewing, distractions, noise, allergies, and phobias.
With that in mind, here’s a dog lover’s surprising take on dog friendly offices...
First things first, I am a dog lover, 100% (although it’s true, I do like cats as well, controversial I know). I’ve grown up with dogs and they’ve always been a part of my life. They’re lovely, fun and affectionate but they’re also, at times, noisy and over exuberant.
Now what’s all that got to do with dog friendly offices you ask? Well, the company I work for, particularly post Covid have embraced hybrid working, and I love it. Hybrid working for me, means two thirds of my time is spent working from home and every week, two very precious days are spent in our office at The Tannery on Kirkstall Road in Leeds. Why are those office days so precious… honestly… it’s because there’s no distractions there like there are at home, and yes, most of those “distractions” for me at least, are the four-legged canine kind.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think in certain circumstances, dog friendly offices can be a real success and certainly where support dogs are needed, it’s an absolutely must. However, the thought of bringing my two to work, does give me a few palpitations! So, if you’re thinking about embracing a dog friendly office and taking your pups to work, here are few things to consider from someone who knows just how hard it can be to work with dogs…
1. How long will they stay settled?
Don’t get me wrong, dogs sleep A LOT, but the average working day for most of us is around 7.5 hours, with lunch somewhere in the middle of that. Is your dog really going to sit, lie or snooze quietly for the full morning and afternoon? If they’re anything like mine, the answer is no. I get a plastic toy shoved in my lap at least every hour or so when the two of them recharge enough to have a frantic five minutes.
Now that’s okay if you can take five minutes away from work to placate them and interact with them, but during a teams call, or even an in-person meeting, that quickly becomes an unwelcome distraction. Not only that, but if I get up to go anywhere, be it the bathroom, the kitchen or even over to a colleague desk, then you just know my four legged entourage is going to be up and coming with me.
2. Are they as well trained as they really need to be?
When it comes to being well trained, there are lots of different ideas about what that means and your colleagues and visitors might not have the same definition as you either. Not only that, offices are often full of expensive equipment, from computers and servers to mahogany boardroom tables and even soft furnishing and fabrics, it all depends on what your business does, but the key thing is, will your dogs be well behaved enough to not cause damage to those things?
I am not just talking about chewing, although for teething pups that can certainly be a stage to overcome, I am talking about jumping up with muddy paws, creating mess, or even just running around, getting giddy and knocking things over, it can all create problems if it’s not easily managed. Thinking about noise control too, it does depend on the dog, but barking is something you need to be able to manage well if you’re taking your pup to work and there can be lots of different triggers that can soon set a little barking session off.
3. Will your colleagues be as comfortable around your pups as you are?
I know as dog lover, it’s hard to conceive that someone else may not like dogs as much as you do, or heaven forbid, perhaps not like dogs at all (shock, horror) but it is the case. Not everyone is a dog person and particularly in open plan offices or offices with well used shared spaces, it’s important to consider how other people may feel about your dog being in the office. Some breeds are known for being a social breed, they love people and that means they’re not above going and plonking themselves next to or slightly on whoever they think is going to give him the attention they want at the time.
4. And similarly… will your dogs be as comfortable with your colleagues as you are?!
Don’t forget, not all dogs like all people either! That’s not to say they’re a grumpy pup or anything more untoward, but some dogs generally prefer less crowded spaces, with less noise and if that’s not the way your office is usually run, then taking your dogs to work could be as uncomfortable for them as it might be for some of your colleagues!
5. Last but my no means least, don’t forget to check your office tenancy agreement.
If your office space is part of larger office building and you have a landlord, don’t forget to check the tenancy agreement before you decide to bring your dogs to work. Your landlord’s policy may prevent you from brining animals into the building, especially where shared access and shared spaces are involved. This may seem unfair at first glance, but ultimately your landlord is responsible for the wider upkeep, health, safety, and security of the whole building and not to mention the comfort and convenience of all the people working there, not just what works for you in your office