Uber Australia conducted research which found that almost two thirds of Australians believe that having your companion animal in the workplace helps to boost mental health. I’m going to presume that they’re referring to dogs primarily because there are different issues with respect to having domestic cats in the conventional workspace. Dogs are much easier to have around an office which is obvious.
Another less obvious benefit to having dogs in the workplace is that it helps to reduce or even eliminate any anxiety that the employee feels from being removed from their dog for the entire day. A lot of people worry about their companion animals while they are away from the home at work and rightly so. Another obvious point is that both dogs and cats will often and perhaps universally feel separation anxiety to varying degrees when left home alone. Having them at work resolves the problem. Clearly, however, there will have to be limitations as you can’t expect every employee to be allowed to bring their dog to the workplace.
This is where other profound changes to the work environment due to the pandemic come in to play. The coronavirus pandemic has permanently, it is stated, altered the work environment. The changes not only concern companion animals but making work far more flexible. This means both flexibility in where you work and the hours that you work. Some companies are allowing people to choose their hours provided they meet their targets. Others are allowing people to work where ever they like provided, once again, they meet their targets.
A good example is the chief technology officer of software company Linktree, Mitch Malone. He is an outdoor person who likes to hike and rock-climb. He lives in a caravan and travels around Australia keeping himself within the 4G zone to allow connectivity with the workplace. His employer allows this and he’s obviously extremely happy about it.
PepsiCo Australia allow their staff to construct their workday to suit themselves provided productivity is maintained and targets met. It appears that the employers are trying harder to keep their employees happier and breaking loose of the shackles of conventional working.
However, I recently read that allowing employees to work remotely, at their discretion, can reduce productivity overall. Productivity on Mondays and Fridays is down which is understandable. Comment: I really do not see it working without more controls, which sounds depressing. I’m all in favour of flexible working but human nature will take advantage of it. There is no question in my mind about that. The change in attitude brought about by the coronavirus may be a temporary blip. It is full of good intention but reality will click in and in a couple of years company bosses will realise that productivity is drifting downwards.
However, I would hope and I foresee that there will be great opportunities to bring your companion dogs and even cats to the workplace in the future. It has been firmly established that provided you have systems in place to cope with this, it does lift the mood in the office and thereby increase productivity.