While COVID-19 has been bad news around the world and a lot of heart ache for those affected, for many of our furry friends it has actually been a dream come true. When the pandemic hit and cities around the world went into lockdown, an unexpected benefit transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands.
Rescue shelters were cleared out as people rushed to finally adopt that cherished pet they had always longed for but didn’t feel they could commit the time to while working a 40-hour week. Dogs and cats who had spent weeks, or maybe months and even years, in rescue centres never knowing if the faces peering in at them would be their new family or simply walk on by, suddenly found themselves in loving homes with soft comfy beds, cuddles on tap and new-found freedoms.
For isolated people, only finding human interaction through a plethora of online Zoom calls, not only did they have a new furry companion, they were also able to giggle along as they watched fluffy butts and waggly tails make appearances on their work colleagues’ screens too.
But as employers begin to call their workers back to the office, things are changing for all involved. Not only has there been a reported increase in dogs suffering from separation anxiety, owners too are finding it difficult to leave their pets at home alone. After all, they have been practically living together 24/7.
But all is not lost. Many savvy business owners are appreciating that there just might be a place in the workforce for all this whiskered pawfection. In fact, there are plenty of studies detailing how having animals in the workplace can actually improve productivity. On top of that it has been found they can also reduce stress while improving connections with colleagues.And it’s not just anecdotal evidence.
Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University tested cortisol levels of employees with dogs in the workplace and those without, finding the latter had higher levels of the stress hormone. Of course, allowing pets in the workplace must be done mindfully of safety for all and consider that some co-workers may suffer from allergies or simply not enjoy being around them.
However, there are a lot of arguments for having them there and there’s even a push for employers to introduce Pawternity Leave for new pet owners who would like a day or two off to settle the new addition to the family into their new home. Many businesses are also likely to continue ‘work from home’ policies for their employees so we haven’t seen the end of fluffy bums and waggly tails just yet.