Pets at work: A great policy every day of the year
This Friday, June 21 is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and the entire week leading up is Take Your Pet to Work Week. I have a long history of trying, usually unsuccessfully, to convince local businesses to actually allow their employees to take their dogs to work on this day each year. When I make this suggestion, I usually get a response to that aims to appear good-natured but involves the other person telling me that they think it will be “disruptive” or that employees without pets won’t like it or something like that.
Every day is “take your pet to work day” at the Richmond SPCA. This has been true for as long as I have been the CEO. So long as the staff member has some work area in which the pet may be contained, they may bring their pet with them to work. Most of us do bring our pet, or pets, with us every day. The concern about this being disruptive in the work environment just has no basis in fact. Once everyone gets used to pets coming to work, it is not novel any more. We all know each other’s pets because we see them every day. Our pets know the other pets. Having pets around our office is just normal life for us.
Incorporating pets improves office life
Allowing employees to bring their pets to work has many advantages. First, and most obvious, is the fact that it makes the work day more pleasant and less stressful. It provides a great personal connection among staff members, especially as everyone helps to care for each other’s pets from time to time. If something comes up and staff members need to stay later at work, they don’t have to hurry home to care for their pet. I know that it has been a huge help to me when our dogs and cats have gotten older or have been sick because I can care for them during the day and don’t have to worry about being away from them when they need me. I have found that many people interviewing for jobs here find the prospect of being able to bring their pet to work to be a significant attraction to working here, so it is a recruiting advantage.
Of course, for the Richmond SPCA, the most important reason to have this policy is that it is a way of living consistently with our mission. It puts into real practice our stated belief that animals should be a part of people’s daily life. I realize that this is not true for many other businesses. But, what is true for every business is that happier employees are better employees. Being able to have their pet at work with them makes staff members feel better about their work day – and that makes people more productive.
Give it a try!
So, again this year, I hope that some local businesses will consider allowing their employees to bring their pets to work on the national day set for that purpose. If they give it a try, they likely will see that it is a great policy for every work day of the year, and we hope they’ll share their success stories and photos. Below are some of our own cherished companions who have enjoyed their time at the office over the years.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA.
Robin left a successful career as an attorney to join the Richmond SPCA as its chief executive officer in 1997. During her tenure, Robin has transformed the organization into a national leader in animal welfare and has implemented a multitude of progressive and innovative programs and services, now replicated at agencies nationwide, dedicated to ending pet homelessness throughout the community. She is a visionary in the humane movement, and her work has led to Richmond being distinguished as one of the safest cities in the country for homeless animals.