How to Have a Company Pet (And Still Be Productive)

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Her name is Winter. She’s a Boston Terrier pup, and we love her.

My co-founder and his girlfriend are big dog lovers, and when he was struggling to find a dog sitter one day, he asked if he could bring his puppy to work. We loved having her around so much that we decided to make her a permanent member of our team.

Believe it or not, Winter was the best boost we could have given our business. Here’s why:

  • Puppy breaks are good for you.

Taking breaks, especially when you’re staring at a screen all day, is proven to be a good idea. And what’s the opposite of a screen? A puppy. While that remains unproven, the health and happiness benefits of having a pet are well-known, and we’ve found that pausing work to play a game of catch is a much better way to reenergize than guzzling a cup of coffee.

  • It boosts morale and teamwork.

Introducing incentives, like playing catch with Winter or walking her, has had a remarkably positive effect on the morale of our team. And the collective responsibility of making sure she’s looked after has bonded us. We’ve noticed that colleagues who wouldn’t usually talk to one another are now connecting through play breaks and walk times.

  • Our customers love it.

After a few days with Winter, we started posting pictures of her on social media, and these posts have been by far the most popular among our customers. Besides being cute, Winter is a great tool for letting customers know that there are real people behind the technology our company creates.

Company Pet Policy — 4 Essentials

There are many benefits to a fluffy new colleague, but you need a company pet policy so that all that cuteness to take away from your productivity. Here are a few pointers to keep your office from turning into a ruff place to work:

  1. Survey your team.
    Before you bring a pet into the office, you need to make sure that everyone on your team is comfortable having one around. Your employees are your first priority, so taking note of phobias, allergies, and general disinterest is vital. The benefits will be counteracted if a member of your team is uncomfortable in his work environment.
  1. Have a backup plan.
    No matter how much we adore Winter, there are times when we can’t afford any distractions, like right before an important deadline. For this reason, secure a backup plan for your pet on deadline days, such as a regular dog sitter or family member.
  2. Set boundaries.
    No one wants to be a party pooper, but you also need to make sure that your team knows when to get back to work. For the first few days, I recommend gently nudging people on their tasks if they’re getting distracted. This will set the tone for the team, and you’ll achieve a perfect work-puppy balance early on.
  3. Consider the pet’s needs.
    Remember, a dog is for life, not just for business. Think about the dog’s health and happiness at all times. If you don’t think your office is the right environment for a pet, don’t get one.

If a dog is too much commitment for your team, or your office space doesn’t allow it, there are many other animals that make great office mascots. Cats are easier to manage and could produce an endless stream of videos to share with your clients. Fish are very low-maintenance and are relaxing if your aim is to ease the pressure of the workday. Just make sure you select a species that’s appropriate for the level of care (and aquarium space) you’re able to provide.

Having a pet can be good for business, and you don’t even have to put it on the payroll! Pets can reduce stress, improve wellness, and even boost productivity. Just make sure to have a company pet policy in place… and give them a little training before they start answering the phones.