Wfh: As WFH ends, are Indian corporates ready for pet-friendly workplaces?

With WFH finally ending for most offices and people returning to work, Canada as well as several companies globally are allowing pet parents to bring their pets to the workplace. However, in India, there are only a few companies that are pet-friendly and they say that this concept has become more relevant now than ever after the two years of the pandemic.
‘Bringing a pet to the workplace comes with its own set of challenges’
Suhani Singh*, who works for an IT company, adopted a pet during the pandemic. She says, “I started the process by leaving my pet alone for half an hour before I resumed office, and then stretched the number of hours. Since my company does not allow pets, it is a major concern for me to leave my pet at home. This setup works best for start-ups since they are usually flexible with policies, I don’t think any pet parents willingly wish to leave their pets alone at home.”

Having pets around helps boost productivity
How far can ‘take your pet to office’ model work?
Bableen, Director Business Development at a biotech clinical research organisation in Asia Pacific, shares, “I don’t see this trend becoming a priority for Indian companies, unless it’s an MNC or a small company where logistically it is possible for them to do it.” She adds, “Nuclear families, in particular, find it difficult to leave behind the pet alone in the house. I have a friend who had to take up an assignment and one of her major concerns was if she’ll be able to fit in her dog’s walks and his schedule within that or not. She stays in Gurgaon and works in Delhi. I don’t think it is easy to take the pet along with her every day to Delhi. Such an arrangement works well when your workplace is near your home. So even if companies agree, I don’t think everyone will be able to avail this opportunity.”
‘Bringing a pet to the workplace comes with its own set of challenges’
Himal Pandita, client relationship manager at a dog cafe, says, “As offices are opening up, a lot of pets are finding it difficult as they are used to their owners being at home 24/7. We have seen a rise in clients, who are also adjusting to the work from home versus the completely offline system of working.” She also points out that bringing a pet to the workplace does not guarantee that pet parents will not face any challenges. “While for a lot of employees, the office makes for a good environment and space to have their pets along them, it comes with logistical issues like having a space constraint since most of offices do not have enough spaces for pets to move around freely,” she adds.
Raj Hazarika, a sports promoter from Gurgaon, adds, “My pet feels pretty isolated during the day nowadays, as she had gotten used to seeing us at home most of the time during the last two years. Now with offices reopening, there’s no one at home during the daytime, except the house help. If there would have been a pet-friendly culture in India, it would have been a perfect arrangement for both pets and pet parents.”

Pet parents bring pets to the workspace
‘Having pets around helps boost productivity’
Only a few companies in India allow pet parents to bring their pets to the workspace is right now. Sthuthi Murugan, head of HR at the parent company of a furniture rental company where employees can bring pets to the office shares, “Having our furry friends around at our workspace boosts productivity and helps us rejuvenate, especially on busy days. Allowing pets at the workspace reduces the tension of not being available to them, and helps foster positivity. We also have dog bowls to ensure that pets are fed and taken well care of.”

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‘We are yet to reach a point where we are sensitive about co-existing with pets’
Ruchika Singh, a pet parent who works at a construction engineering company in Noida, asks, “Logistics aside, in high-rise societies where people have problems with feeding, walking and sharing a lift with a pet, do you think people would be willing to share an office space with them?”
Siddhant Chauhan, a marketing and communications professional, adds, “As a society, we are yet to reach a point where we are sensitive about co-existing with pets. Maybe, companies can start by introducing a few days in a week or month, where employees are allowed to bring their pets along. This can be a good start to warm up colleagues, and also understand how this policy can be evolved further.
Location courtesy: Furlenco

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