Pets make their owners happy and enrich their owners’ lives. But the four-legged friends not only ensure balance and relaxation at home, they also have a positive effect on the working environment in the office. An online study with more than 1,000 respondents from Austria, Belgium and Switzerland now shows what employees want and are allowed to do: In this country, 34 percent of employees can bring their dog to the office, in Switzerland it is 28 percent, in Belgium only 11 percent. A total of six out of ten employees state that they would feel more comfortable in the office if their family dog were nearby. During the pandemic, the need for a furry friend under the desk has increased.
The food company Mars asked three European countries to find out how the relationship between people and their pets has changed during the pandemic and what speaks for the presence of animals in the workplace. Especially among new pet owners, many would like to be able to work from home because of their pet. So why not just allow humans and animals to come to work together? This is propagated on “Bring your animal to work day”, which falls on June 24 this year.
Clear rules make dogs ideal colleagues
The global day of action is an ideal introduction to the “office dog” project. Because pets can have a positive effect on the general atmosphere in the workplace and on the work-life balance. A win-win-win situation for employees, pets and employers – but only if clear rules and a suitable infrastructure are in place.
However, bringing pets into the office is still unusual for many companies and their employees. Tried and tested human-animal teams confirm that the presence of the four-legged friend increases interaction with colleagues (9/10), contributes to a better overall atmosphere (9/10), increases enjoyment of work (9/10), reduces stress levels (8/10), encourages more active breaks (7/10) and can even increase productivity.
Valuable Family Members
In the current survey of around 1,000 Austrians, around five out of ten households state that they have a pet. The most popular are dogs (38%) and cats (35%). In almost all pet households (88%) they are seen as an integral part of the family. 74 percent of owners say it’s normal for them to talk to their pet, 80 percent think their dog or cat has a personality of their own, 51 percent let their pet sleep in their bed. Only 16 percent of people surveyed in Austria state that they do not have a pet and do not want to have one.
Pet lowers stress levels in Austrians
Not only does having a pet make respondents happier (91%), they also see many other benefits of owning an animal. 88 percent believe that pets reduce stress levels, make or keep us more active (90%) and facilitate social interaction (83%). Respondents also say that pets help children and young people develop social and caring skills (90%), feel accepted and get through difficult moments (91%) and contribute to more social cohesion in society (86%).
Pandemic caused pet boom
During the pandemic, many people have made the decision to adopt a pet for the first time. In order to compensate for the lack of social contacts and the additional free time available, pet ownership in Austria has increased significantly over the past two years. A pet is a decision that has a major impact on everyday life, the organization of family and household, but also on the work-life balance.
60 percent of Austrian pet owners state that the bond with their pet has even intensified during the pandemic. They now miss their cat or dog even more when they can’t be around and are reluctant to leave them alone as a result. For this reason, 26 percent of new animal parents would like to continue to work from home temporarily. Their pets have become an important aspect of work-life balance – an aspect that companies should consider if they want to bring their employees back to work, at least partially, in the wake of the pandemic. Being able to bring your own pet can be a motivating factor for employees.
Clear rules for a harmonious working atmosphere
When deciding whether or not to have a pet-friendly office, some stubborn misconceptions persist. Above all, concerns about hygiene (41%) and possible nuisance from barking are mentioned. Implementing a “pet policy” can create a harmonious working environment. 82 percent of respondents agree that pre-agreed rules are fundamental to the peaceful coexistence of people and animals in the workplace.
For example, the family company Mars “petiquette“, which applies equally to everyone involved: dogs, their owners and people without pets of their own. Only dogs that are healthy and properly cared for, get along with other colleagues, including pets, and behave calmly during telephone calls and meetings can be brought to the office.