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Dog friendly coworking spaces give paws for thought
Did you get a pet during the pandemic? You’re not alone.
According to the ASPCA, nearly 1 in 5 American households acquired a cat or dog during the pandemic. Shelters even offered the chance to walk dogs during the day, letting remote students and workers get out of the house
Now, many of those pet owners are facing dilemmas in returning to on-site workplaces that may not allow pets.
After a year or more with constant companionship from their animals, being forced to separate can take an emotional toll and affect productivity. This presents a timely opportunity for more offices to consider pet-friendly arrangements. Coworking spaces that already allow dogs can market to this demographic of remote workers struggling to balance obligations to their employers and beloved pets.
For many remote workers and entrepreneurs, their furry companions have become an integral part of their daily routines. As more professionals seek out flexible coworking space arrangements, an emerging trend is the dog friendly coworking space.
Plus, allowing members to bring along their dogs offers unique advantages for coworking space owners and members alike. With proper planning and management, dog friendly policies can lead to improved member satisfaction, community building, and even marketing opportunities.
Let’s explore the rise of dog friendly coworking, look at evidence-based benefits, and provide tips for creating a welcoming environment for both canine guests and human members.
Within the broader coworking movement, dog friendly coworking has steadily gained popularity. Major space operators boast dog friendly locations nationwide. Survey data also shows demand among members:
- In a 2021 survey by Coworker.com, over 67% of respondents said they would work from a dog friendly coworking location if given the option.
- A 2022 poll by FlexJobs found that 61% of remote workers would be more likely to select a flexible workplace that allows pets.
Coworking space owners are taking notice of this trend. Dog friendly policies are becoming a popular perk and point of differentiation to attract new members.
So what’s behind the rise of dog friendly coworking?
There are a number of benefits — for both space owners and members — associated with allowing four-legged guests.
For remote workers and business owners, bringing their dogs along eases separation anxiety and improves work-life balance. In a 2021 survey of UK office workers, 78% of dog owners reported mental health benefits from having their pet nearby at work. Dogs in the workplace have even been shown to reduce stress and fear among other employees.
In coworking spaces that ban dogs, members may have to regularly choose between going into work and caring for their pet at home. Enabling members to bring along their furry companions delivers an attractive perk that helps improve experience and satisfaction.
Stronger community bonds
Dogs serve as instant icebreakers and can help facilitate meaningful connections between members. According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, dogs in workplaces can act as “social lubricants” and are associated with:
- Increased workplace trust
- Greater interpersonal interactions
- More relationship building among colleagues
These community-boosting benefits translate into the coworking environment as well. Friendly dogs encourage casual collisions and conversations between members, supporting a welcoming, collaborative atmosphere.
Marketing and publicity
Offering a unique perk like dog friendly workspace can also be a boon for marketing and publicity. Promoting the policy - on your website, social media, email newsletters, etc. - highlights your space’s standout member experience.
Dog friendly coworking spaces also tend to attract media coverage in local business journals and lifestyle publications. For example, Philadelphia’s Pipeline coworking space has earned multiple features highlighting its canine-inclusive environment. This exposure introduces your brand to new audiences and helps establish your space as an innovative option.
Considerations for dog friendly coworking
To successfully implement a dog friendly policy, coworking space owners should consider the following:
Set clear guidelines
Establish clear rules that promote safety and cleanliness for dogs and members alike. Important factors to address include:
- Breed restrictions: Some spaces prohibit dog breeds with reputations for aggression like pit bulls or rottweilers. Others take a more case-by-case approach through member interviews and trial periods.
- Behavior rules: Dogs must be non-aggressive, leashed when not in private offices, cleaned up after, etc.
- Off-limit areas: Server rooms, events spaces, or areas containing expensive equipment may be prohibited for dogs.
- Documentation requirements: Have members provide vaccination records and signed responsibility agreements.
Properly equip your space
Ensure your operations and layout meet the needs of four-legged coworkers. Recommendations include:
- Outdoor relief areas for bathroom breaks
- A pet friendly cleaning service and supplies to address accidents
- Designated water stations and bowls
- Calm rooms or quiet zones for dogs who get overwhelmed
- Hooks and tethers for securing leashes at standing desks
Consult an attorney or insurance advisor to make sure you have adequate liability coverage for potential incidents. Many business insurance policies exclude dogs, but providers like ProSight offer coworking protection that covers both pet-related injuries and property damage.
Additionally, requiring signed waivers from dog owning members helps limit liability. The agreements should make clear that pet owners are solely responsible for their dogs’ actions.
Thoughtful community management
To foster harmonious “human-canine coworking”, observant management is key. Be ready to gently enforce policies when needed. Also gauge member sentiment through surveys and address any concerns about the policy.
With proper preparation, dogs can be successfully integrated while minimizing disruptions. Some owners may still prefer a pet-free workplace, so consider designating certain floors or zones as dog-free.
The verdict is in: dog friendly coworking offers powerful advantages for spaces embracing this emerging trend. With careful implementation, you can position your business to benefit from improved member experience, community connections, marketing potential, and more.
Rather than facing restrictions, remote workers and entrepreneurs are insisting their dogs come along to the office. As coworking continues evolving post-pandemic, expect demand for pet-inclusive workspaces to only grow.
By becoming an early adopter, your business can stay ahead of the pack. Just be warned — you may have some very enthusiastic new coworkers vying for belly rubs!