As employees shift back to in-person work, pet-friendly offices have become more mainstream.
Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), Uber (UBER), and Build-a-Bear (BBW) are just a few of the companies that have implemented such policies. Some small businesses have hopped on the trend as well, such as the Sacramento-based Rhombus Systems.
“So far, it’s worked out really well for us,” Garrett Larsson, CEO of Rhombus Systems, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “We had requests from the very beginning, and we just had a lot of people that were really into dogs and wanted to bring their dogs to work.”
While pet-friendly offices were a trend long before COVID, it gained steam as a result of the pandemic after a record 23 million Americans adopted pets during that time. As more and more individuals return to in-person work, many worry about leaving pets behind.
A March 2021 survey by Banfield Pet Hospital and OnePoll indicated that this concern had been growing for some time. Half of executives surveyed said they were planning to allow pets in the office as a way to entice employees to return to in-person work. For execs that had policies like this in place before the pandemic, 42% saw increased productivity among staff.
The company relocated in 2021 and as it began its search for new office space, Rhombus Systems decided to specifically look for places that would allow dogs.
“It was just sort of an understanding that once we moved to our new office, it would happen,” Larsson said. “Everyone was pretty much on board, and luckily we didn’t have too much pushback. That being said, there are people with special considerations, so I’m sure we’ll probably have to adjust as time goes on.”
While some larger companies have pet-specific areas, Rhombus allows the two to five dogs that inhabit the office to roam wherever they wish, though this has created some challenges. In one particular instance, a dog was caught on a security camera swiping two bagels off the counter in the office.
“People will bring them into meetings,” Larsson said. “We have one notorious for when people play ping-pong, it’ll try to swipe the ping-pong balls."
Currently, only dogs are allowed to be brought into the office as part of a “wait-and-see” approach, though Larsson is open to eventually expanding it depending on how things go. The other issue, however, is that there might be employees with allergies. Larsson, for example, is allergic to cats.
“I have pet allergies, so I know I wouldn’t necessarily want to have cats in the office,” he said. “I think it’s something we’ll have to adjust as we get larger, maybe there will be specific pet areas.”
Either way, Larsson said, "you have to be considerate of all the employees. That’s something we’ll have to consider as we grow.”