Pets at work have pluses and minuses In this Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, photo, Kristine Florio works as her dog Gio sits in her lap at O'Connell & Goldberg Public Relations, in Hollywood, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Pets at work have pluses and minuses
Lexile

When a conference call turns tedious, Brent Robertson can still count on getting a smile from watching Gus roll around on the floor.
 
The golden retriever is a regular visitor to Fathom, Robertson's management consulting business in West Hartford, Connecticut. So are Pookie and Ari, dogs owned by two of Robertson's co-workers.
 
Beyond the old tradition of a used bookstore or antique shop having a resident cat, some urban delicatessens and bodegas have cats to mitigate any rodent problems. And at some smaller professional businesses with a relaxed culture, it's becoming more acceptable for employees to bring in their pets. Robertson is among business owners who think having animals around boosts morale, improves the work atmosphere and raises productivity.
 
"Everyone seems to smile and immediately become a little bit happier," says Barbara Goldberg, CEO of O'Connell & Goldberg, a public relations company based in Hollywood, Florida. Her bulldog, Rosie, is a frequent visitor.
 
A survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 7 percent of organizations allow pets in the workplace, though that may not reflect the practices of very small businesses that don't have HR officers.
 
At Badger Maps, owner Steve Benson's Pomeranian mix, Foxy, seems to know when employees of the San Francisco app developer need some comfort.
 
"They're very intuitive," Benson says of dogs. "They have the ability to recognize when someone's stressed out."
 
But not everyone, including employees, customers and visitors, thinks animals belong in an office or a store. Some people are allergic or afraid and might take their business elsewhere. So besides paying attention to permission from landlords and laws about having animals where food is being prepared, people need to consider how to accommodate uncomfortable staffers or clients.
 
Rodney Alvarez, a human resources executive at Celtra, a video advertising company, says legal issues to consider include making sure the company's insurance covers any incidents like biting, and keeping animals well-behaved so they won't frighten visitors. Some owners say when they interview job candidates, they let them know there are pets around.
 
Staffers at Celtra's San Francisco office asked to bring in their pooches. Managers decided that was OK at its four offices, but only if every staffer agreed, Alvarez says. One Boston employee said no, and so there are no dogs in that office.
 
One regular deliveryman to Fathom is petrified of dogs. Since Gus "is a full contact dog," Robertson says, "we collect the dogs and put them away in a room so (the deliveryman) can do his thing."
 
And at Sterling Communications, seven of the 20 staffers want to bring their dogs into the Los Gatos, California-based office. CEO Marianne O'Connor, who has a German shepherd named Kaya, worked out a schedule that allows two dogs each day. Upholstered furniture may be off limits.
 
"We push them off gently, and they learn, that's not for them," O'Connor says.
 
When visitors arrive, pups may be placed in a closed office with a water bowl and toy.
 
At Crescent City Books in New Orleans, the majority of customers are glad to see Isabel, a Maine coon mix cat, and some let her curl up on their laps as they sit reading.
 
"Most with any issues just keep their distance," manager Michael Zell says.
 
Most often, a business becomes pet-friendly when it's the owner who brings an animal in. Anne Buchanan adopted a dog about 12 years ago who turned out to be emotionally needy and much happier when Buchanan was around. So she began taking him to work at her eponymous PR firm in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
 
As her company grew, staffers asked if they could bring pets in, too. There are generally two dogs in the office, and sometimes as many as four, including Buchanan's two rescues, Katie and Lacey.
 
Behavioral issues can crop up, but many owners said they can be dealt with. If Rosie the bulldog at O'Connell & Goldberg starts barking during a phone call, the office manager quickly lures her away from Goldberg's side. When Buchanan's dog and a staffer's couldn't get along, the boss paid for a trainer to work with both pups and their owners. Peace was restored.
 
Sterling staffer Rosie Brown recalls when Hazel, a co-worker's Swedish Vallhund, couldn't wait for her owner to get out of a meeting and left a present behind Brown's chair. The next day, Hazel's owner brought a cake for the office that said, "Sorry I pooped. Love, Hazel."
 
"We all laughed it off," Brown says.
 
Cats also sometimes make themselves at home in workplaces with dogs. When Brandon Scivolette, president of Elite Moving Labor, goes on vacation, his cat boards at the Tampa, Florida-based company, where there is often at least one dog about.
 
"A cat is a great thing for an office. It goes from office to office to hang out with people," Scivolette says.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
CTC: Why are employees more likely to bring dogs rather than cats?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (125)
  • omara-how
    11/15/2016 - 01:06 p.m.

    Employees are Most likely to Bring in Dogs instead of Dogs because, Dogs are more Playful and Energetic they can Tell when you are Stressed or Frustrated and they can Cheer you up. You know what they say Dog is a Man's Best Friend.

  • johannaw-cel
    11/16/2016 - 10:44 a.m.

    Pet at work have in my opinion negative and positive sides. One positive aspect is that pets can reduce stress and make the work atmosphere better. Dogs for example have the ability to recognize when someone is stressed out and they make most people happy. Barbara Goldberg, CEO of "O'Connell & Goldberg" said that everyone seems to smile and become a little bit happier when her dog is in the office. Cats can also be good in the office because they walk around and visit all people in their offices.
    But pets at work have also a negative side. Some people may be allergic or afraid of pets and so they are distracted from their work and for them the work atmosphere gets worse.
    A survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found out that 7 percent of organizations allow pets in the workplace. This is more common when the chief of the office wants to bring his pet and when it is a small office.
    In my opinion this is a really good idea because pets reduce stress and make the work atmosphere better. But I think that everybody in the office has to agree with this and that the pets in the office are mentioned in the interview so that the new people know from the beginning that there are pets at work.

  • kaileew-ste
    11/17/2016 - 02:06 p.m.

    I think bringing your pets to work is a great idea! They will make you happy when you're having a bad day. However, they could get into something that isn't meant for them, but the will learn!

  • zakrym-ste
    11/18/2016 - 01:02 p.m.

    This is a good and bad thing. I would not be bored at work because I would have my best friend there. On the other hand, I would get nothing done because i would be playing with my dog the whole time.

  • mikelf-lam
    11/23/2016 - 08:33 a.m.

    Employees would more likely bring in a dog because they have been trained to go outside. This means that when they need to go they can let their owner or someone else know and they can get put outside.Cats can't really be trained to go outside because they are very picky about where they go to the bathroom, if the litter box doesn't get cleaned every day they won't use it.

  • ethanc1-lam
    11/23/2016 - 08:34 a.m.

    I like the idea of having pets in the workplace, but what if one becomes aggressive and hurts someone? If a dog were to bite someone the company can be sued. This can be a major liability issue for any business.

  • annak-lam
    11/23/2016 - 08:36 a.m.

    I totally agree, pets should be allowed in work places (and schools) If a dog or cat walked in to a classroom in the middle of a test I would feel happy and calm. There wouldn't be so much stress.

  • salmae-lam
    11/23/2016 - 08:38 a.m.

    I don't think it is a good idea to bring pets into the workplace because they are more trouble than use. For example, they need to learn to behave if they can't already, they can be a distraction at times, and some people (both clients and employees) are scared or allergic to certain animals. The only benefit they seem to have is to alleviate stress in the workplace, and most workplaces are quite productive already.

  • griffinc-lam
    11/23/2016 - 08:38 a.m.

    I think that most people bring in dogs instead of cats because, as it is stated in the article, dogs are intuitive and know when you are stressed out. Cats are just mean and annoying and will do lot more than poop behind someones chair. You know why your co-worker didn't come to work? Because her viscous fur ball clawed her eyes out.

  • peterf-lam
    11/23/2016 - 08:39 a.m.

    I think it is great that they are allowing dogs into workplaces. I think that animals could be distracting. My barber has a dog in his barber shop and it is more fun watching a dog while your hair is cut then just waiting. I think animals in a workplace could be helpful and nice.

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