The Rise of the Furry Coworker

Today marks International Dog Day, making this the perfect time to explore the claim that having dogs, and, more generally, furry friends of all sorts, in the workplace can be good for business. Are pet friendly workplaces truly best in show? Let’s dig in and take a closer look.

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A whiff of rebellion hangs in the office air. As pandemic life recedes in the U.S. and elsewhere, employees have become increasingly vocal about not going back to the office full time. They’re making attendance strictly optional, whether employers say so or not. The rationale beyond the resistance is logical, even persuasive. The pandemic may be receding, but gas prices are soaring, child care is harder to find, and there are new uncertainties in the world. If a worker can be productive, if they can satisfy or even exceed their employer’s expectations, and not report to the office five days a week, why would they? 


All of which is to say, the future of work is here, it’s on, and the transition is proving tricky. But guess who is at our sides, helping us to relax, exhorting us to rise to the occasion, wagging their tails all the while? Our favorite four-legged friends, naturally. Their faithful, nonjudgmental presence helped us cope during the pandemic, and they’re no less eager to help us adapt to the new, post-pandemic work era, as well. 


Episodic work: a breed apart 


According to a recent survey from the consulting firm Gartner, executives confess the percentage of workers returning to the office is in freefall. Fewer employers are expecting their employees to return five days a week anytime soon. Return-to-office plans continue to be floated, then questioned, then quashed. The harder executives work to enforce their RTO plans, the harder they fall. 


Episodic work is another matter. The appeal of hybrid in the new era of work is that it makes no assumptions. Remote isn’t always the answer. Culture still depends on coming together, even if only occasionally. The value of in-person collaboration for solving problems quickly remains hard to beat. It’s the location of these in-person get-togethers that is getting a second look.


What is working? Coworking! There’s a reason coworking and third space venues are on the rise. These popular remote-friendly venues combine the benefits of a workplace environment with proximity to the employee’s home. They provide a place for people to gather and interact without the hassle of a lengthy commute. For workplace leaders investing in hybrid options, third spaces have become an important piece of the puzzle, a necessary space for fostering camaraderie, community and culture.  


And research shows that when those spaces are pet friendly, as well, they become even more effective. 


In Fido & Buddy, but also Loki & Luna, We Trust 


For many people, dogs play a big role in their lives. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Pet Product Association, there are about 90 million dogs kept as pets in the U.S.  Why wouldn’t they play a positive role in our work lives, too? Is it any wonder humankind’s best friend has found a way to stick their cool noses into our business, helping us to weather a particularly challenging time? 


But while International Dog Day really is a thing, and while it may have sparked this casual examination of the value four-legged companionship brings to the workplace, dogs can’t take all the credit. Research similarly shows that pets of all kinds in the workplace are good for employers and employees alike. Three reasons for this are typically cited:


  • Pets help us relax
  • Pets remind us to take breaks, or focus on something other than our computers 
  • Pets make us laugh, the perfect antidote for workplace stress


Pets are good for our health, period. Pet ownership has been shown to curtail physician visits, lower obesity and reduce blood pressure. The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) recently found that pet ownership is responsible for saving $11.7 billion on health care costs yearly. 


Healthy workers are happier and more productive workers, but pets can be good for business in other ways, too. As organizations look to attract and retain talent, many have discovered that pet-friendly policies can be an effective tool not just for wellness and productivity, but also recruitment and retention. No employment decision will be one hundred percent canine-driven, but people will pick one employer over another because they can bring their pet to work. 


Translation: When you put your faith in Fido, your employees (or prospects) put their faith in you. 


Pet peeves?


Pets can be a wonderful addition to the workplace. They should also be groomed, free of contagions, and fully vaccinated. This is both an unspoken code of office conduct, and more importantly, a public health requirement. It’s also true that not every pet gets the memo about their role in creating a relaxed work environment. It can take time for animals to acclimate to any space, and that includes the workplace. Introducing pets slowly into the office environs – whatever those environs may be – will help with the adjustment. Stressed-out pets are less of a calming influence, as any pet owner will be the first to tell you. 


Yes We Canis


The future of work is here. Increasingly, employers are investing in technology and ideas to make their workplace cultures as productive and inclusive as they can be. Ping pong and cold brew are no longer a swaying factor, but a pet-friendly environment can be. Regardless of the work environment, if it’s welcoming to pets it will be more welcoming, more comfortable, and more productive to the members of your team. They may even want to get together more.

Finding a pet-friendly workspace in LiquidSpace’s extensive network of on-demand space is easy. You simply select the pet friendly filter when you conduct your search. To learn about the hybrid world’s only complete, end-to-end enterprise grade workplace management solution, contact us or visit

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