Bosses hope that allowing dogs in the office will lead to their owners coming back post-Covid. Clearly there is a reluctance among a sizeable percentage of office workers to work in the conventional way. They want to stay at home and who can blame them! But allowing them to bring their dogs to the office is one of a number of solutions dreamt up by bosses.
In their contract of employment there might be a “canine clause”. Among other terms, they stipulate how many dogs can be an office. They are quite common in rented London offices in London. Andrew Barnes, of Savills estate agents said that normally around 95% of London offices wouldn’t allow dogs to be at the office. However, nowadays, post-pandemic, landlords are much more open to the possibility. Not returning is a major problem because without people returning to London offices all the ancillary businesses which service employees can’t open or they can’t be viable.
However, the issue with dogs in the office is that you have to have rules otherwise it’d be chaos. Andrew Barnes said that “you can’t have 50 dogs in a 10,000 ft² office building”. For the first time, this week, employees at the Reading headquarters of Sanofi are allowed to bring their dogs to work. The company wants employees to spend a part of the week in the office like many other employers. But it’s quite a hard sell after 18 months of working from home. The new working practices have become ingrained and workers like it. They do so, though, that cats have become stressed as they’ve had too much of their human caregiver!
However, there is a productivity problem. I have read that productivity dips when people work at home. In the UK, as a whole, there’ a productivity problem. The general manager of Sanofi, Nicole Farmer, is behind the dog initiative and she said that the company is keen to “build a working environment where collaboration, creative thinking and idea generation can thrive.”
Companies expect a challenge in getting their employees back and the test is going to come, it is believed, in early September. Office-based businesses are using imagination to get their staff back. I can recall visiting the offices of Google in London on more than one occasion. A lot of businesses would do well to visit them. Their offices are not so much a workplace as a playground from my perspective. I guess they treasure blue sky thinking. Also, Google is so rich they can afford to not be too concerned about productivity.
Bosses are competing for a shortage of skills and are prioritising the quality of space and the wellbeing of staff. Staff are asking about the quality of air in the building. This is a reference to “sick building syndrome” about which people have been aware for quite a long time.
Covid has put the emphasis on the health and well-being of employees which gives them more of a voice. Employees are asking to see office space before accepting new jobs. And it is quite possible that if they have a dog, they will be asking whether they can bring her to the office. It appears to be a buyers’ market with employees having the upper hand post-Covid.
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