Viewpoint: Are office pets beasts of burden or a blessed relief to accountancy firms?

Viewpoint: Are office pets beasts of burden or a blessed relief to accountancy firms?

Pets in the office have been proven to lower stress levels and lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. Are accountancy firms on board with the latest initiative?

Viewpoint: Are office pets beasts of burden or a blessed relief to accountancy firms?

A number of initiatives have been introduced to offices in recent years aimed at helping staff “keep calm and carry on”. Wastepaper basketball hoops, tai chi lessons and walking challenges are among quirky solutions dreamt-up by bosses to bestow an element of calm upon increasingly demanding workplaces. The latest stress-busting scheme might be the most leftfield yet, as it’s been revealed that 23% of accountancy firms allow employees to bring pets to work.

A survey by CV-Library showed that 46% of women and 29% of men said that having a furry friend at their side during working hours helped them de-stress. Such was the attraction of being afforded some creature comfort in the office, a staggering 28% of British people said they would be more likely to apply for a job if it allowed them to bring their pet to work.

Canine cure

According to Lee Biggins, founder of CV-Library, animals are an increasing presence in the workplace, with some accountancy agencies supposedly using the “bring your pet to work” perk as a tempter to lure valued candidates away from rival firms. Those in favour of the pet practice, such as Biggins, claim the arrangement not only benefits the creature’s owner but it brings light relief to other staff members, some of whom might not even admit to being animal lovers.

Pets accompanying owners to work isn’t a new idea, however. In June, offices nationwide welcomed waggy-tailed desk buddies as part of “bring your dog to work day”. The annual fundraiser, organised by AllDogsMatter and AsiaAnimals, supports charities dedicated to making a difference to the welfare of dogs. The programme also highlights the benefits of having a pet in the office.

Proof that pooches and the like can be a mood enhancer in the modern workplace is present in a 2012 US study. It found that staff who brought animals to work recorded lower stress levels as well as higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to the employer than those who had no interaction with animals. Overall, the study showed that having dogs in the office reduced stress levels, increased staff cooperation and gave people a better sense of wellbeing. The pets acted as social catalysts, encouraged people to be active during their lunch break and helped lift team morale.

In-house survey

With several pet owners in the office, we asked AJ Chambers staff: “How would you feel about having pets, particularly dogs, in the workplace?”

Of the 17 people surveyed, 10 were in favour and seven were against sharing their workspace with colleagues wearing a collar and no tie. At AJ Chambers, it appears dogs will not have their day – in the office at least.

Andrew Hilliard, director at AJ Chambers Group, said: “Introducing pets to the office is a fascinating concept. It’s been found to work elsewhere, but it’s not something AJ Chambers staff appear ready for… yet. Any initiative that improves morale in demanding workspaces is worth exploring, however. We are very forward-thinking in our approach to staff wellbeing – after all, a happy workplace is a productive one, so who knows? Maybe one day pets will become a feature at AJ Chambers, particularly if they’re good at making tea.”

AJ Chambers is the UK’s leading Public Practice employment consultancy.

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