29 September 2023

Elevating workplace wellbeing: Your step-by-step guide to introducing pets at work


As we embraced hybrid work arrangements this year, the idea of welcoming dogs back to our office began to spark excitement. Before COVID, pets at work were the norm for our offices, and it was a sentiment we were eager to reignite. However, our initial requests for pets at the office weren’t approved. We decided to appeal.

At Elanco, we understand the profound connection between animals and human well-being. Having dogs in our workspace isn't just a perk; it's woven into our core values. Our return to the office has amplified our appreciation for their presence. So, when we're asking to bring our dogs to work, we’re not just asking for permission; we're advocating for a livelier, more inclusive workspace that aligns with our identity.

After all, we know that having pets visit the office will lead to:

  • Happier and more engaged employees
  • Better relationships among team members
  • Less stress from work
  • People sticking around in their jobs for longer
  • Employees enjoying their work life even more

After working through the approval process, we've managed to make this happen. So, we're excited to share some tips that could help other businesses offer this perk, those being:

  1. Generating Employee Interest: We began with an office-wide survey to assess general levels of enthusiasm for introducing canine colleagues, ensuring a shared aspiration.
  2. Effective Communication with Management: Establishing proactive dialogue with our building manager was crucial. We addressed concerns and fostered understanding about integrating dogs in our workspace.
  3. Contractual Considerations: We carefully reviewed lease agreements, uncovering a "no pets" clause. Collaborating with building management, we initiated discussions to amend this.
  4. Drawing from Industry Precedents: Showcasing successful dog-friendly workplaces and available lease options influenced our building manager's perspective.
  5. Compelling Business Rationale: Through well-researched correspondence, we highlighted the benefits of having dogs at work. We addressed concerns and supported our proposal with data-driven insights.
  6. Implementing Safety Measures and Comfort: Our project team developed risk assessments and contingency plans, focusing on coexistence of canines and colleagues.
  7. Addressing Apprehensions Systematically: We pre-emptively addressed specific concerns such as those outlined below:
    1. Shared Office Spaces for Dogs: In response to concerns about dogs in shared office spaces like foyers and lifts, we proposed a solution. We suggested designating one of the three lifts in our building for shared use with dogs, clearly indicating this arrangement with a sign. This allows other building members to navigate the office in a manner that aligns with their comfort and safety.
    2. Dog Breeds and Numbers: When addressing questions about dog breeds and the number of dogs allowed at once, we assured that regardless of breed, only friendly and well-socialised dogs would be present in the office. Our plan involves having approximately six dogs in the office simultaneously.
    3. Ensuring Comfort with Dogs at Work: To ensure a comfortable environment for everyone regarding dogs at work, we outlined a strategy. We intend to brief the teams and display prominent signage on the day, outlining guidelines for both dog owners and office attendees. These guidelines cover positive interaction with dogs, and respect for the workplace's cleanliness, comfort, and safety.
    4. Safety Measures for Dogs: In terms of dog safety, we have several precautions in place. We have a Dog Control Team who will oversee monitoring for good behaviour. We will limit the number of dogs present at any given time and choose days without potential hazards such as unsafe food being brought into the office or celebrations/occasions which might be overwhelming for a dog. We plan to educate everyone on safe and positive interactions with dogs, emphasising obtaining owner permission before patting or feeding, especially human food.
    5. Office Cleanliness and Maintenance: Addressing concerns about office cleanliness, we have devised a plan. Dogs will be kept close to their owners' desks, groomed appropriately, and briefed on rules and expectations for the day. Signage will remind dog owners of these rules. Additionally, dog owners will bring necessary items like bowls and splash mats to maintain communal spaces' cleanliness and safety.
  8. Allergies and Preferences: Recognising allergies and individual preferences, we are taking steps to accommodate everyone. Dogs-at-work days will be prominently marked on our office calendars and communicated thoroughly. Staff uncomfortable or allergic will have the option to work from home on these days. After each dogs-at-work day, the office will be thoroughly cleaned. We will ensure dogs are well-groomed to minimise shedding, and clear signage throughout the office building will indicate dog presence.
  9. Leadership Support: Endorsement from the top, our GM, Hendrik Van Der Walt, added credibility to our initiative.

Join us as we eagerly anticipate the infusion of a canine spirit into our professional spheres! We're committed to fostering an environment where productivity and positivity are intertwined with the joy of four-legged companionship. Stay tuned for further updates on our transformative Dogs at Work endeavour!


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