Pet-friendly workplaces are becoming more standard as an increasing number of Google-partner digital marketing agencies are striving to add “the cool and quirky” into their collaborative spaces. After all, having a cat walking around in a bow tie and a little monocle…It’s just the way creatives are. Though dogs are by far more common in pet-friendly agencies, cats are making their move, and some are even finding gainful employment.
This article is going to address three subjects: (1) briefly profile a cat in the tech industry who holds an executive role, (2) outline the benefits for allowing cats (and dogs, rabbits, anteaters, whatever) into your workplace, followed by (3) vital tips on how to make your agency truly pet-friendly.
Meet Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers, Digital Marketing Agency Executive
Sometimes big results come from little, unlikely places. Meet Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers, Director of Emotional Stability for WEBITMD–a digital marketing agency located in New York City with headquarters in Los Angeles. He is one-fourth ocelot, and three-fourths your standard American shorthair. But he is far from ordinary; the little chairman is part of a winning digital marketing team. As we know, the SEO climate is always changing. As a result, best practices and marketing protocols can change, clients can make big demands, evasive actions can be required to avoid potential penalties (you know, Google loves to spring updates out of the blue), and, well hell, sometimes servers just go down and things momentarily stop working.
When the flames rise, Chairman Thaddeus Whiskers dons his little sailor suit, and transmits positive energy to the team feeding them an extra helping of motivational drive while inspiring creative problem-solving to ensure clients are receiving the best care. He even attends meetings and shares his opinions via facial expressions. His greatest achievement at WEBITMD was when he caught some wrongfully executed cannonical links on a new client’s website; he was animatedly hissing and not at all pleased. Our team informed the client, got the approval to make corrections, and Thaddeus soon began purring and licking his little paws. Has he ever let the team down? Not at all. However, once he was spotted linking his junk when we had a client touring the office. The CEO gave him a verbal warning, and there have been no repeat incidents.
Why Bring Pets to Work?
Various studies reveal that allowing pets in the workplace has far more benefits than headaches. Having your furry little friend at your desk, or roaming the floor, is said to
- Encourage a greater positive attitude
- Raise morale
- Reduce stress
- Create an open, comfortable environment
- Build camaraderie
Virginia Commonwealth University published a 2012 study on the benefits of having pets at work finding that those who had pets in the office experienced far less stress throughout the workday compared to their colleagues who worked in pet-free offices. Having cats in the office has proven to stimulate creativity, so if you are in upper management and want to know how to encourage employee creativity, let people bring their pets to work and examine the results through a trial period.
Tips on Making Your Agency Cat-Friendly and Comfortable for Employees
If you plan to take kitty into your digital marketing agency, you need to make sure there is zero potential for a backfire. First, your cat should
- Be housebroken
- Have access to an odorless little box / contraption
- Be social and like people (no freaky energy, scratching or biting)
- Be clean, well-groomed, and freshly combed to remove loose fur
- Be chill on his own without constant babysitting (most dogs need this)
- Have a letter from the vet showcasing a clean bill of health
Be Considerate of Your Colleagues
More people are allergic to cats than dogs, so be a good colleague and ask if anyone in the office has allergies or medical concerns. There are people in the world who don’t like children, barking dogs, and yes even cats. Make sure there are no “kitty-cat bigots” in the office. There are even a significant number of people who are afraid of cats. Though this fear is as old as the Dark Ages, you want to make sure your team members will be able to work comfortably in kitty’s presence. All colleagues should be on board to welcome a cat into the office; if even one person objects, leave the cat at home and bring your goldfish instead. Also, be sure to let your colleagues know what the cat’s dietary needs are, i.e. ask them to refrain from feeding the cat human food, if he only eats cat show.
Create a Kitty Conduct Policy
Sometimes there are good cats with bad owners. You may have a cat that simply chills and stays out of trouble, but if you take him into the break room and place him on the counter to lick tuna water from a can, the bad behavior falls on you, not him. Your team should express any concerns with pets in the office, and a conduct policy should be drafted to address the points. Some common agency rules for having cats on site include:
- The cat must remain within view of his owner at all times
- The cat must stay off furniture
- No stinky wet cat food allowed
- If people are too distracted by the cat, he can’t come back
- A system for reporting problems should be in place
- Cat should have a bed or something to sleep in / on
Really, any rules are valid if they come from a team member with a genuine concern. So long as everyone agrees on the conduct policy, there should be no hissing and booing.
Is Your Cat Happy at Work?
We may love the idea of having our cat at work, but how does the little fur ball feel about it? Consider your cat’s feelings before taking him outside of his comfort zone. Does he do well in new environments? What about unfamiliar noises like printers and multiple phones? Whether your cat is a social butterfly, or you have no idea how he will react, take him to work in an enclosed carrier, and gradually introduce him to the office and new faces. This will help him better adjust, and it will help your team adjust more quickly to him.