As contractors return to the office, will their dogs get left behind?

In the old days before COVID, you went to the office to make a living and your pet was left at home during the working day, except on Bring Your Dog To Work Day once a year.

Then everything changed when you had to stay at home by law. Your dog had more walkies and time with you and the family than they ever dreamed of, and the bond between you became ever stronger.

Let’s face it, pets kept some people sane during the long months of lockdown as they were the only company some people had. In fact, the lockdowns saw a huge uptake in pet ownership, especially amongst young people.

Data from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association shows that more than one third of adults aged between 24-35 became new pet owners in lockdown. Dog ownership has now eclipsed that of cats, with 12.5 million owned in the UK.

Now after nearly 2 years of living under official advice to work from home, employers are expecting us to return to the office. This means less time spent in the company of our best friend, which could create problems for both pet and owner.

After all, your dog has got used to you being around and it may feel rejected, or worse still, suffer from separation anxiety, if you are no longer with them all day. Likewise you became accustomed to having a loving pet to share your day, without any interruptions. In short, you have been there for each other and your dog has helped you get through a traumatic (and possibly lonely) time.

A dog is for life, not just for lockdown

Another “post-COVID” problem is that the interest and enthusiasm for keeping dogs may now be waning, and some owners find themselves unwilling or unable to cope with a pet at home, as they face the practicalities of combining pet care with their new work arrangements.

So how can you make the transition back to a more “normal” office-based working life easier for your pet?  One answer is to take your pet to work more often, to at least soften the blow of permanently losing your company during working hours.

It is well-known that there are numerous benefits to having pets at work. Having a pet in the office:

  • Helps us to relax, as petting lowers our heart rate and reduces blood pressure, stress and anxiety
  • Boosts morale and improves our emotional wellbeing and mental health
  • Helps break the ice amongst our colleagues, promoting communication within and across teams
  • Reminds us to be playful
  • Makes us take healthy breaks outdoors

Improving our overall wellbeing at work can also boost productivity and motivation, which is a win-win for employers and employees alike.

But we’re not all dog lovers…

The RSPCA is advising employers to consider allowing pets at work, although your colleagues, who may not be dog lovers, need to be considered. There are are downsides to working around pets, such as:

  • Loss of concentration where dogs are noisy or restless
  • Allergies, such as to pet hair
  • Colleagues being nervous and apprehensive around dogs
  • Pet smells
  • Lack of space for baskets, especially around cables etc.

However, many of these issues can be mitigated with some thoughtful preparation.
Going back to pre-pandemic days, the vast majority of employers (82% in this survey) did not allow pets at work, but attitudes could be changing.

Contractors are bringing their dogs into the office

Changing attitudes to dogs at work, one cute puppy at a time

Many flexible workspaces popular with contractors are now welcoming dogs but imposing some basic “petiquette” to protect other workers, so every day can be bring your dog to work day. The rules include:

  1. Keeping the workplace hygienic and tidy
  2. Providing a safe place for every dog to feel secure and comfortable
  3. Ensuring that dogs are vaccinated, free from illness and that the owners have third-party insurance in place
  4. Establishing a feeding and walking routine that won’t interrupt your colleagues


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