They bring great mental health benefits

Whether it’s a quick cuddle before a stressful pitch or a walk at lunchtime ahead of a busy afternoon, it’s clear that being in the company of a pet can be a great way of calming nerves, alleviating stress  and elevating positive emotions. Research shows that groups of people in the presence of a dog will display “better verbal cohesion and higher ratings of trustworthiness to fellow group members”

There are both positive and negative aspects to having animals in the workplace. Some animals can make the workplace a more relaxed environment in which to work and provide companionship for staff working alone;

however, some people may find they increase stress, find them intimidating or find the smell offensive etc

There is no specific legislation relating to the keeping or bringing of pet animals into the workplace, although the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act does require the employer to ensure the safety, health and welfare, so far as is reasonably practicable, of its personnel and others. 

So before you say yes to pets at work, make sure you create a policy . (The points below will aid this.)

  1. Not everyone loves pets – so the first step is to survey your team and any visitors to your office – for allergies or fears before you start letting four legs into the office.
  2. Check with your building management / landlord to make sure pets are allowed and that the environment is suitable for animals.
  3. `Health and safety of your people should be number one, so ensure that any pets are trained and have the right insurance cover.
  4. You may wish to include a schedule for pet visits (so it’s not completely raining cats and dogs!) and guidelines on how they should behave when visiting the office.
  5. Ensure that the Pet owners understand that there may be Hygiene issues with Pets and needing the toilet. Whose responsibility will it be to clear any mess up.
  6. Conduct a risk assessment and share its results with all staff. The main risks associated with keeping animals in the workplace are physical injury, by bites, scratches, kicking or crushing and infection or infestation from microorganisms or parasites, Zoonoses; and asthmatic or allergic reactions. Some people have phobias about particular kinds of animals.

Bear in mind points like, what happens in an emergency evacuation, are there new and expectant mothers in the areas and will there be exposure to any children.

Like with all risk assessments, they should be reviewed regularly and where necessary.