- Henry Sands, a political strategist, used to bring his two dogs to work.
- He stopped after they kept jumping on his colleagues.
- A rise in the number of pet owners has shed light on companies’ pet policies, which can be divisive.
Britain is sometimes called a nation of pet lovers, but one executive has found out the hard way that business and pets don’t always mix.
Henry Sands, chief executive of political consultancy Sabi Strategy, occasionally brought his 70-pound Labrador Bear and 33-pound spaniel Digby to the company’s London office, but had to apologize after continuing to jump on his colleagues unsuspecting.
“[Bear] is a big black Labrador…it’s like a big black bear coming right at them,” Sands told Insider. sweet as anything.”
However, Sands told Insider he now avoids bringing his dogs “unless it’s to avoid a domestic crisis” – although he sometimes takes them to church with him when he leads the service. in Norfolk.
Sands was one of many pet owners who spoke to the FinancialTimes about their experience with company policies regarding pets. These policies have been in the spotlight as companies look for ways to get workers back into the office after two years of pandemic-enforced remote working.
Pet-friendly office policies were already a thing before the pandemic — Amazon and Google, for example, are famous for their dog-friendly policies for company staff. Others have attempted to attract talent by offering paid “paternity leave” and pet insurance, among a host of other niche perks.
Pet ownership soared as people worked from home during Covid-19 lockdowns. Now being asked to return to the office, some workers find themselves on long waiting lists for pet care — or unwilling to shell out thousands of dollars in fees for the service.
This has left some employers in a sticky situation. For those who want it, dogs can be great for well-being and productivity. But for office workers who are allergic, scared, or just don’t want to be distracted, pets can be problematic.
Sabi Strategy provides policy and strategic advice, work that often requires long periods of concentration. Sands says dogs can be an unnecessary distraction, but he understands why it may work better for other businesses.
He said it was important to give staff flexibility, and he lets his 10 colleagues bring their pets to the shared office in Notting Hill if that really helps them. But he finds the idea of managers trying to come up with specific incentives involving dogs to get people into the office to be “crazy”.
“I would question the caliber of staff you bring in if they’re going to make a decision about where they work based on whether they can bring their dog or not,” Sands said.
He thinks this risks becoming an escape for managers, instead of making them take responsibility for policies that genuinely support staff.
Some companies are trying to meet the challenge presented by office dogs.
In October, UK retailer FTSE 250 Pets at Home released new PET etiquette tips that employers could consult on how to handle office pets.
“Becoming ‘dog friendly’ shouldn’t be a quick decision,” the director of Jane Beresford’s Pets at Home group of people partners said in a statement reported by The evening norm.
Guidelines include making sure dogs have a bed near the owner’s office and that they get regular exercise. He also recommends having boxes of quiet toys in the office.