ST LOUIS ­— Of the many pet owners who have been able to work from home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, some are now facing a dilemma — leaving their pets at home again — and have expressed concerns about how this will affect their own mental health as well as the wellbeing of their companions.

Purina recently asked these pet owners about these sentiments and found 76% of pet owners currently working from home have been happier spending their days alongside their pets. Additionally, 73% are concerned about their pets’ reactions to being left alone during the day again.

This increased time spent at home has made many pet owners even more cognizant of the mental health benefits their companion animals provide. Some employers were already pet-friendly before the pandemic, but this shift now begs the question: will more workplaces adopt a pet-friendly mindset to ease the transition back to the office? And what other perks could pets bring to a work setting?  

"Now is the time to seriously consider the role that pets have had and will continue to have in the lives of employees," said Nina Leigh Krueger, chief executive officer and president of Purina. "Introducing pets into the workplace creates a cultural shift that brings people together, offers stress relief and fun, and increases productivity. Incorporating a pet-friendly office policy now also will help the pets who have supported us throughout this time adjust to a new reality."

According to Purina, 72% of pet owners currently working from home would accept a new job offer from a pet-friendly employer over a non-pet friendly employer if the salary and benefits are equal. Additionally, 47% said they believe workplace morale would be improved if the employer allowed pets at the office, and 72% of C-suite executives agree that pets in the office are likely to lead to higher workplace socialization in general. Another 56% of C-suite executives said it can or has already led to increased productivity.

With these sentiments in mind, Purina has compiled some resources to help employers and employees navigate this tricky topic. These include a Pets at Work Starter Kit, a web page offering suggestions for employers who have decided to make the switch to a pet-friendly office, as well as an Employer Toolkit with statistics, tips, checklists and documents.

Additionally, the company offered the following five tips for employers:  

  1. Learn the Benefits – Do your research to arm yourself with the positive impact pets have on the workplace as well as the benefits to pets that may suffer from separation anxiety.
  2. Find Examples – Help employees and management by laying out a list of other like-minded companies in your area that have successfully integrated pets in the workplace.  
  3. Test it Out – Suggest a "Bring Your Pet to Work Day" as a test run to see how employees and visiting pets interact.  
  4. Make the Pledge – Gather signatures in favor of the policy using Purina's Pets at Work pledge template.
  5. Show you're serious – Establish guidelines and make it official by using an authorization and release form for those wishing to bring their pets to the office.

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