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As office buildings are opening back up, not all employees are eager to return, especially those who have enjoyed spending their days working alongside their pet. Going back to the pre-pandemic way of leaving pets behind all day does not settle well. “I get it,” says Gayle Martz, author, entrepreneur, and pet travel advocate. If you’ve ever taken a pet with you on a plane, then you have Martz to thank. Martz invented the iconic SHERPA bag — creating the soft-sided pet carrier category —all because of her not wanting to leave behind her beloved Lhasa Apso, SHERPA, when she traveled. Now, Martz continues to advocate for a world that responsibly welcomes pets wherever their humans go. Martz was responsible for American Airlines changing its policy in 1992 to allow pets to travel in the passenger cabin and is eager to help change workplace policy to allow pets at the office.
Below are some considerations for how to get “on board” with allowing pets at the office.
Just like any new employee entering a workplace, training should be required. “Pets absolutely can’t run around the office,” says Martz. “I always say ‘The best pet on an airplane is one that nobody knows is there.’ This is because they are trained. Pets should be able to be at the office with a minimal distraction to others.” If pets aren’t trained, they will not be welcomed to the office.
There have been numerous studies on the benefits of walking during the day. In a study published by International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, participants who took five-minute walking breaks throughout the workday experienced more energy, improved mood, and less fatigue. “At a pet-friendly office, walks are required throughout the day as exercise is a crucial part of fostering positive animal behavior,” says Martz. “These walks will not only benefit the pets but employees at the office!” An uptick in productivity thanks to a pet-friendly office will likely be appreciated by employers!
Whether you have your own office, a cubicle, or a desk in an open office, you have a spot that is your own. Pets need to have this, too. It can be a spot that you put a bed, crate, or a SHERPA bag, where your pet will spend most of its time at the office. “Slowly, your pet will get accustomed to the space. Purchase a new toy, without a squeaker, and a healthy chewy that doesn’t smell or distract anyone but the dog, that stays at the office. This will help get your pet excited to go into their space with their ‘work toys’,” says Martz.
There is a lot of work involved to make a workplace pet-friendly, however, it is possible, and will be appreciated by employees who are trying to adjust to returning back to the office. “Employers will need to make rules and regulations that must be adhered to as well as get liability insurance for pets in the office,” says Martz. If you are interested in learning more about implementing a pet-friendly workplace, Martz is available for consultation and can be reached via her website.
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