Does Your Office Have a Mascot or Two?
This year, thousands of US companies celebrated Take Your Dog To Work Day in June – a tradition that started in 1996. Having your dog in the workplace has been shown to boost morale, increase productivity, and keep workers motivated. It also provides employees with a reason to step away from their desks and get outside for a workday break.
As more companies are allowing dogs in the workplace, it's important to establish proper "doggie" etiquette and set some ground rules.
- Make sure your dog is well-behaved. Dogs in the office can be a wonderful benefit, but if the office is filled with energetic, barking dogs, it can feel more like a zoo than a place to get work done. Make sure Bailey is well-socialized and non-territorial. It's also a good idea to exercise him during the day and to bring some toys so he doesn't become bored. But not the squeaky kind – those could be very distracting!
- Think about your co-workers. Even if you have a dog-centric culture, someone might be allergic to them and that could cause a real problem. Ask around and see if there are any issues before sneezing, red eyes, and headaches turn into an epidemic. If someone does have a serious allergy, set up a "dog-free" zone where only people are allowed.
- Baths and Shots. Does Lola like to take a dip in the river every now and then? I think I can speak for everyone when I say "Please don't bring her into the office smelling like crabs and fish!" Make sure your pup is clean, well-groomed, up-to-date on all shots and free of illness and diseases before she makes her debut.
- Clean up after yourself. People are responsible for their own dogs at all times – from the temp to the CEO. Meaning if someone has an "accident", clean it up before a co-worker finds it or worse yet, steps in it! Keep Gigi confined to your work area instead of allowing her to roam the office; baby gates are a great way to do this.
- Potential Injuries. We have to face it. It's entirely possible that in his excitement, Max could jump on a co-worker and cause an injury or nip a little too hard at a new-found friend. As an employer, you could be held liable. However, if your employees want to bring their dogs to work, you are well within your rights to require them to sign an indemnification agreement that will require the employee to pay the cost of defending any dog-bite case that may occur. You can also require employees to provide documentation of insurance and current veterinary records in advance of bringing their dog to work.
Office mascots can serve as a low-cost wellness initiative readily available to many organizations and may even enhance employee satisfaction and cohesiveness. Of course, it's important to have policies in place to ensure that you, your dog, and your co-workers have a safe, fun and relaxed time at the office – not to mention a productive workday!