More and more workplaces are inviting people to bring their furry friends to work with them, and shared spaces are no different. We have several members in the Network where every day is “Bring Your Dog to Work Day.” Dog-friendly workplaces can be a huge benefit to employees, because they don’t have to pay for dog walking services or doggie day care. The Center for Disease Control, among other researchers, has conducted studies that indicate having dogs around can reduce employee stress and boost morale. In my experience at The Alliance Center, dogs are also a great conversation starter. (For more about the benefits of dog-friendly offices, check out this Inc. article)
Not everyone is an advocate for dogs in the office. It varies by animal, but the number of people going in and out of the office may overstimulate the dog, making them bark or act out. Dogs can be a distraction to your coworkers – who doesn’t want to cuddle a puppy instead of doing financial reports? Employees or visitors with dog allergies are also a consideration.
If you’re considering allowing dogs in your shared space, make sure you create a good dog policy. Here are some things to consider as you draft your document:
Expectations for Dog Behavior – Not every dog is a good fit for a shared office. Nonprofit centers may have high volumes of unfamiliar people or other dogs, so it’s important to communicate expectations that dogs in the office won’t bark or whine at strangers, or worse.
Expectations for Owner Behavior – This may seem obvious, but it’s important to make sure that owners know they are responsible for cleaning up after their pet and where any cleaning supplies might live in your center. Also, what are your expectations about the dog being left unattended in the office? Some spaces ask the owner to provide emergency contact information in case an issue arises with the dog and the owner can’t be found.
Mechanism for Conflict Resolution – While a dog owner may be used to their dog and find it comforting to have the pet nearby, they may be immune to some of their pet’s more disruptive behavior. There needs to be a clear process for filing a complaint and enforcing the expectations set in the dog policy. At the end of the day, shared space is office space, meant for getting things done.
Rules for Common Areas – it’s one thing to have a dog in your office suite, but what about in the public areas like conference rooms or the kitchen? If you have a café or restaurant, the presence of dogs may be in conflict with the vendor’s permits.
Waiver of Liability – Some centers include a waiver of liability clause in their dog policy for owners to sign before bringing their furry friend into the office, just in case an incident were to occur.
NCN Members can check out some sample dog policies shared by our members in our Online Resource Center.