One of the most important developments in the evolution of the modern-day workplace is  the rise of the pet friendly workplace.  In many areas of the world, employees are increasingly finding favor with bringing their pets to work, giving them time and space to be with their owners instead of being locked up at home. It’s also shaping up to be an important perk.

Although only eight percent of employers currently have pet friendly policies (the numbers though vary widely, with figures as high as 20%), the benefits of having pets in the office can’t be denied. Especially with more Millennials joining the workforce, the comfort and pleasure derived from having a familiar face in the office — in this case, a pet — can be very comforting in what is normally seen as a stressful environment.

For many employees, having pets allows them to focus more on work.  This is a very simple solution to increasing productivity through several means: for example, having a pet around reduces cortisol levels in the brain.  This reduces work-time stress by 11%, while having no pet around increases stress by up to 70%.  Reduced stress allows employees to better cope with their workloads and, by extension, get more work done faster.

But there’s more to increasing productivity than just making the brain less susceptible to stress. Having pets around also contributes to increased health outcomes in the office, boosts in creativity and, particularly so, better engagement between employees and customers.

Having pets around though is a major cultural change, and executing this change should be done while keeping all employees in mind.  Some may be distracted by the presence of pets in the office, which impacts the way they work during the day.  A good way to approaching this potential issue is by setting up pet-free zones for employees to work in if they don’t want to be around their colleague’s pets.

Having pets around may also be a distraction in other ways.  For other people, having a pet may be dangerous to one’s health, particularly when considering allergies or other health risks that may arise from being around pets.  At the risk of ending a policy that may be popular at the office, what can be done to mitigate this?  While there are no clear-cut solutions, some possible remedies include provisions for pet insurance (which covers humans in the event of an untoward medical incident) and accommodations for remote work.

For HR managers, the growing popularity of pets allows for greater interest in what the company does and how it tries to retain talent, especially as more and more Millennials enter the workplace, pets in tow.  Will employers be able to catch up though?  It looks like it’s only a matter of time before they do, but when doing so, they should always keep in mind all their employees.

Do you have a pet friendly workplace? Share your thoughts and experience.