Take Your Dog to Work Day is on Friday, June 22, 2018. If you’re planning to open your office to employees’ pets, on any day of the year, make sure you’ve got the right business insurance coverage and office policies in place.
Office Policies Come First
Pets in the office is a lovely perk for those employees with pets. Before any four-legged friend enters, communicate your intention to all employees so you can have an open, honest conversation. Every opinion and concern must be addressed equally so there is total agreement; either for or against bringing pets to the office.
It’s a go! The pets are coming! This is a great time to chat with your business insurance agent, so you understand what coverage you have, what coverage you need, and what guidelines need to be set. It’s important that everyone understands their level of responsibility, and if the employees’ insurance policies will come into play – such as pet insurance. You could also consider having your employees sign waivers relinquishing the business from any legal liability from incidents caused by the pets.
Animals in the Office Come with Risks
Pet-related injuries and damage come in all shapes and sizes. From as simple as knocking over a glass of water onto your keyboard as they excitedly jump across your desk to someone tripping and falling over a small furry friend, to an unexpected allergic reaction to the pet, to someone getting bitten in a quick violent reaction. The severity of the issue may vary, but the responsibility stays square on the business owner’s shoulders.
Several types of business insurance policies are involved in just these three examples. Property insurance will be tapped for the damaged IT (especially if it was a laptop keyboard), liability insurance coverage comes into play with the personal injuries, and depending on the severity, Worker’s Compensation coverage, health insurance, and disability may also be included.
Additionally, the pet could get injured, creating a different set of issues and concerns. Business liability insurance may cover this incident depending on the circumstances. It can get very complicated very quickly if an employee other than the pet’s owner is involved, or if the office was not adequately prepared for animals to be wandering around, even though everyone knew they were coming.
Other Businesses Costs
Pets are adorable, lovable, and distracting. Usually, it’s in a good way, but not necessarily at work. If you decide to open the office doors once a year, then the reduction in productivity for that day won’t be surprising. And, it could be bonding for the employees and a boost to the company culture.
However, if pets are a regular occurrence, then productivity should be monitored to make sure it’s not causing damage to your business. Happy and relaxed employees are beneficial, but distracted and unfocused employees are not.
What Happens in Your Office Doesn’t Always Stay in Your Office
Before you invite pets into your office double-check with your landlord or building management. You’ll need to adhere to and clearly communicate any specific rules to your employees. The last thing you want is to incur a fine or create a situation that gets your business evicted.
Also, consider how the building is designed and if your employees’ pets will have easy access to enter and leave without disrupting other tenants or customers. Everyone in your organization may be excited about sharing their day with their pets, but nearby offices, or businesses that share your space, may not be supportive of the situation. Additionally, you can expect that people with allergies will not enjoy the furry surprise.
Once you have covered all the bases, there are benefits to allowing pets in the workplace. Besides being fun and an opportunity for employees to talk about something other than work, once everyone is comfortable with the situation, productivity can increase.