In Seattle, we love dogs. In fact, Seattle companies are some of the most dog-friendly offices in the United States. But if your company currently has canines—or you’re thinking about allowing them—there are some important best practices to make sure everyone feels comfortable and your space stays hygienic. Here are our tips for managing a pet-friendly office and keeping it clean.
1. Get Employee Buy-In
If your office is not already dog-friendly, it goes without saying that you should ask your employees before you let pets run loose in the lobby. Some workers may have reservations including allergies, fear of dogs, or concerns about loud barks distracting them.
Make sure you frame the opportunity as more than just an appeal to cute puppies. Studies have shown that dogs can decrease stress in the workplace, and their presence may lead to a more collaborative, creative environment. Still, you’ll want a solid plan to mitigate the possible negative consequences (cleaning your pet-friendly office) and give realistic solutions for employees who wish to opt out (a dog-free section of the building, for example).
In light of this, it helps to prepare beforehand. Do your research and share any plans that will help staff and management make an informed decision.
2. Check Your Lease Agreement
Speaking of informing others, if you are leasing premises that are not specifically dog-friendly, it is important to speak to the landlord about your plans. Ensure you do this before making your office dog-friendly. In the same way you wouldn’t bring a new pooch home to your apartment without first checking the landlord’s policies, you need to understand the terms of your commercial lease.
The main concern of landlords is usually about cleaning your pet-friendly office. Their property is an investment, so they obviously want to avoid stained carpets and damaged fixtures. They may agree to permit dogs but exclude certain breeds and sizes.
Some due diligence when planning for a dog-friendly office can help you avoid issues with your landlord or the law later on.
3. Establish Guidelines for the Behavior of Both Owners and Dogs
In the workplace, a set of guidelines—both for behavior and cleaning your pet-friendly office—helps everyone know what is expected of them.
For example, set rules that owners should vaccinate their pets and provide proof thereof before bringing them into the workplace. Some vaccines, like the rabies shot, are legally required in Seattle. Especially if you run a small business with not much room to spread out, you will want clear guidelines for when and how owners should clean up after their floofs. A pet-friendly office is only tolerable when owners take responsibility for their furry companions.
4. Require an Application
Bringing a dog to work is a privilege, not a right. Before allowing pets into your newly created dog-friendly office, ensure pet owners go through an application process. This entails filling in particulars of their furry friend, details of their vaccinations, any type of medication they may be taking, as well as a copy of a recently completed fecal test.
Ask about each pet owner’s insurance and require proof of coverage to make sure they are able to pay if they are liable for any damage or injury their dog causes.
Add a clause in the application that stipulates the process for revoking a dog’s ability to visit the office. If owners (or dogs) do not follow the rules, make sure the consequences are clearly defined.
Lastly, it may be a sensitive topic, but some dog breeds are known to be more aggressive than others. You may decide to implement a rule such as dogs over a certain weight limit needing references or certificates from obedience schools prior to entering the workplace.
5. Avoid Startling the Dogs
As cliché as it may sound, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” You may find that despite enabling a conducive, dog-friendly environment, some dogs may not adjust well to the office. They may feel out of place and behave “poorly” (e.g. barking, and being skittish) as a result. As a business owner, it helps to partner with dog owners and establish how to make their pets feel more at ease.
It is well-known that dogs can be frightened by the loud noise of fireworks. But what may surprise you is the loud noise of vacuum cleaners often startles dogs. To avoid or mitigate this, inform the cleaning company that provides your pet-friendly office with janitorial services of this issue. They can help you set up a plan to clean at certain times or to enter certain areas only when the dogs are not present.
6. Invest in Dog-Friendly Office Furniture
Our canine companions are cute, but they can leave quite a bit of a mess around the place. So, it pays to invest in office flooring and furniture that can withstand the messes as well as wear and tear dogs cause. Examples of these include tiled or engineered hardwood floors as well as canvas or leather furniture. Make sure you also have cleaning materials on hand for urine or slobber spots.
Plus, if you have a cleaning company that performs janitorial services for you, it would be best to inform them that your office is dog-friendly. This way, you can ensure they will thoroughly clean, disinfect, and sanitize floors and surfaces. If your workplace has carpets, ask for periodic shampoos and deep cleans.
Not only will this help with cleaning your pet-friendly office, but it can help employees with allergies. Pet dander and animal hair can trigger allergic reactions in employees. It is important to note that dog-friendly offices do not just accommodate dogs but humans too.
7. Installing Air Purifiers
Speaking of allergens, the air needs as much attention as the carpets. If you don’t have them already, you’ll want air purifiers. Dirt and dust build up fairly quickly in an office, so you can only imagine what happens when owners bring their dogs to work.
Pet dander, from dogs shedding tiny particles of their skin, can trigger allergies such as a runny/stuffy nose or even shortness of breath. Air purifiers can help with cleaning the air of your pet-friendly office and minimizing the amount of pet dander in the air. Plus, those nifty filters can help remove further tiny particles from the air, proving to be beneficial for office cleanliness.
8. Invest in Dog Bowls, Toys, and Accessories
What dog-friendly office does not have toys, play pens, and food for man’s best friend? Place some fresh water bowls at various locations (stainless steel for maximum hygiene, of course) and noiseless toys in dog-only “chill spaces.” You’ll also want a separate spot in the kitchen for dog food and dog treats (some employees may not like seeing a bag of dog food on the counter next to the microwave). Ensure you provide the right amenities to help your employees’ dogs feel at ease while creating minimum distractions for the humans.
To make cleaning your pet-friendly office easier, set up a separate area for the dogs to relieve themselves. Outside is easiest, of course, but you can also invest in a synthetic turf pet relief area similar to what’s found in many airports for service animals. Make sure cleaning supplies, sanitizing sprays, and waste bags are well stocked, and keep this area away from the main productive areas of your office so any smells do not distract employees or customers.
Keeping Your Office Clean and Pet-Friendly
Seattle is generally open to the idea of a pet-friendly workplace, but by following these tips, you can make sure that employees are happy and customers have a good impression when they enter the building.
At Seattle Commercial Cleaners, we love dogs too. Get in touch about providing tailored janitorial services to keep your dog-friendly office clean. We have industrial-grade equipment to handle big messes, and we use green products for the safety of people and pets.
We will walk through your office space and even give some recommendations about how you keep things clean while making the building pet-friendly. Give us a call today for a free quote. We look forward to meeting you—and your office pets.