In the UK, we are a nation of pet lovers. From dogs to cats, guinea pigs and hamsters there aren’t many pets that we can say we aren’t utterly obsessed with. This obsession has only grown over multiple national lockdowns where many homeowners needed a furry friend to accompany them whilst staying in and working from home. Over the course of the 2020 lockdown, a survey found that 2.1 million people collected a new pet for their home.
Now that home working is slowly coming to an end, and full-time office working or hybrid working is becoming the new norm, many pet owners and the pets themselves are finding this daily distance difficult. To try and deal with this separation, many offices have started to allow employees to bring their pets into work on a regular basis.
Although some may find the thought of this potentially counter productive, a study conducted by the University of Lincoln found that employees who take their dogs to work actually saw an improvement in their dedication to work, level of enthusiasm, level of concentration, working relationships, energy levels and workplace wellbeing. Now, this study does put focus on dogs in particular, it still shows how pets can have a positive impact on staff in the workplace.
As a result of this study and hundreds of others like it, more businesses are now catering their office design and build to accommodate employee pets.
Where ‘bring your dog to work day’ may have only been an annual occurrence pre-pandemic, it looks like our four-legged friends are set to be in the office on a daily basis.
In this blog, we’ll give you our 5 top tips on how to make your office the perfect environment for your new furry employees.
Your existing office space is most likely perfectly fitted and designed for all of your workers and their needs. However, now that employee’s pets will be present in the workplace it’s important to think about the size and scale of your office so it can be better suited to their needs too.
Most employees will usually bring pets like a dog or cat into work, and usually they can fall anywhere between hip and shin height. Make sure features like food and water stations are implemented at an accessible height to cater for the size of the animals that will be coming into your office or install ramps and steps to help with this.
Agile working solutions such as co-working and private working booths are a booming office trend at the moment, allowing employees to take themselves away to collaborate with other staff members or have some time to themselves.
An area like this would also be great for pets too. Being in an office space with unfamiliar sounds and people could be quite over-stimulating, and can definitely tire them out, so providing them with a tranquil, quiet space could be very beneficial.
Alternatively, if this is something you don’t feel would be a good fit in your office, make sure your employee desks are high and spacious so pet beds and crates can be placed underneath so the animals can be comfortable and near their owners.
Although bringing dogs and other pets into the workplace has been shown to improve employee wellbeing and productivity, ultimately there will be some instances when they can become a slight distraction; especially if your company is going through a busy period.
When designing your office layout consider installing office partitioning that is solid and opaque, or if your design is better suited to glass partitions, think about using frosted glass for the bottom portion of the partitioning.
Having your pets unable to see any, or minimal movement will help them to remain calm during the daily hustle and bustle of the office and in turn help the daily running of the office to remain seamless.
Colour scheme can also be particularly important in helping animals to remain calm too. Toys are usually made with bright and high energy colours such as yellow and red, as their purpose is to stimulate pets.
Alternatively, Green is a great colour to help promote calmness and harmony amongst people and can also have the same effect on animals too. A dark forest green is a great option as it is also a trending interior design colour at the moment too.
Another way to avoid any frustrations developing about your pets roaming around in the office is to install small, novelty design details which will help to keep them under control during busy periods.
Dog leash hooks and handles are a great way to manage this. This design feature will still allow dogs to wander but with a boundary, meaning they will not be able to accidentally walk into places they are not supposed to be in.
As well, these hooks can also help to minimise any distractions, as staff will no longer have to manage where and when their dog wanders as there is limited space the leash can reach.
Flooring is also another big design detail that can be overlooked when considering bringing pets into the office. Where flooring can usually be chosen based on aesthetic, practicality will now be a major deciding factor when making your design decisions.
Delicate flooring such as wood can easily be scratched by claws when animals are walking across it. Carpet, on the other hand, can become stained from any accidents or dirt that is brought in from your office pets, and can be incredibly difficult to clean. Over time, this can begin to look unkept and old.
To avoid this, LVT (luxury vinyl tiles) flooring will most likely be your best option. LVT flooring is of the highest quality when it comes to vinyl flooring, and it is incredibly durable, meaning you can avoid any additional costs for replacement flooring.
LVT flooring also comes in a range of textures and designs meaning you don’t have to completely compromise on the aesthetic of your office for the comfort of your pets; you can simply have both.
When allowing pets into your office space, it’s not just your carpet that needs to be durable, but all of your office furniture. Dogs in particular, especially younger dogs or puppies can be prone to chewing when they are bored and under stimulated, and sometimes a chew toy just won’t do.
In this case, it’s usual that they will resort to chewing something they are not supposed to like chair legs, desks and other important pieces of furniture.
When choosing your office furniture, look at furniture made of robust material with metal finishings. This will make it difficult for the dogs to ruin or misshape and will allow you to keep your
office furniture for longer without the need for a replacement. Office furniture made of wood, however, is probably not a good choice.
Similarly, dogs can also be prone to making a mess that can cause stains and marks on furniture, which again can become frustrating and extremely expensive in the long term.
To avoid this, consider purchasing office furniture that has removable upholstery. If the furniture does become stained, at the very least the design layer can be removed and washed to look good as new again.
If a lack of stimulation for your office pets is something you are concerned about whilst they are in the office, why not design a play section when creating your office space plan. Within this play pen, you can include lots of stimulating toys to play with, and brain games and puzzles to keep them occupied.
Doing this will help to keep your pets distracted for longer periods of time and will also help them to remain calm throughout the rest of the day when they’re not playing. Even better, it keeps the bulk of their toys in one place making it easier to clean up at the end of the working day.
Bringing pets into the office is a growing trend and is only likely
to escalate further in the future, so now is the best time to ‘pup-grade’ your office space.
Creating an environment where pets can feel safe, stimulated, and well looked after is key to achieving a perfect pet-friendly office space.
At Building Interiors, we have recently managed some work for our new friendly neighbours at Guide Dog’s UK. Here, we helped build and install play pens and accommodation for all of the new guide dog puppies, and experienced guide dogs alike.