We all love our dogs, but one of the worst parts of the working week is when we have to look into the sad eyes of our favourite furry friends and say goodbye when we leave for work. Are we right?What if we told you there was a way around this?! Join us today as we take you to Nestlé Headquarters where we recently attended the very special celebration of the first anniversary of Nestlé Purina’s Pets At Work (PAW) programme! That’s right, PETS AT WORK!!! We can barely contain our excitement! You may want to open an email and get ready to forward this to your boss once you’ve read this blog! So, what are we waiting for?! Let us tell you all about it and how this could revolutionise the way employers view dogs in the office…
A BIG CELEBRATION
We arrived at the Nestlé Headquarters along with our fab friend, Photographer Rachel Oates, who has kindly supplied her photos for our blog. We were greeted with an amazing sight; a sea of people and something you don’t often see everyday in a work environment: lots of dogs too!! A presentation was taking place to celebrate the first anniversary of Nestlé Headquarters successfully rolling out the Nestlé Purina Pets At Work (PAW) programme to ALL Nestlé employees. To put this into perspective, the HQ can hold up to 1,000 employees (so given its size you could expect a scheme which allows so many employees to take their dogs to work, would be chaos!) I’m pleased to report though, we could not be more wrong!
This is not achieved by accident though, but because of careful consideration and a clear plan to make bringing your dog to work a viable option which works for everyone (even those who don’t have or like dogs!) The idea originally stemmed from Purina, the animal ‘arm’ of Nestlé which have been fortunate to have had a Pets At Work programme for over 10 years (lucky them!!) Given Purina focus on animal related products, you may expect it to be easier to integrate dogs into a work environment, plus there is likely to be a higher demand too. You wouldn’t be wrong! But what about those who love their dog but aren’t lucky enough to work for a company specialising in animal products? Enter the brave decision to roll out the scheme to ALL employees of Nestlé; led by Purina and their experience.
HOW DO THEY DO IT??
I don’t want you to think up to 1,000 employees just roll up to the offices with their dog everyday, as that would be unrealistic! There’s a tried and tested programme in place which enables those who wish to try the scheme the option of doing so (and doing it well, too!) Brilliant! What’s more, Nestlé Purina want to inspire other workplaces to do the same by sharing their incredible programme. If a Company the size of Nestlé can do it, then why can’t yours??! A three stage induction programme has been created which employees who want their dog to join them at work must complete:
A detailed questionnaire has been carefully created to check every dog who joins the scheme is likely to fit in with other existing dogs at the office and will also enjoy the experience once they’re there, as office life isn’t for every dog.
Before a dog even arrives at the office, they must meet an independent dog behaviour specialist on neutral territory, who will provide 12 simple exercises to determine further whether each dog would fit well into office life e.g. Do they enjoy interaction? Do they show any signs of aggression? Each dog must also undergo a full health check.
As with staff members in most jobs, dogs attending Nestlé offices have to complete a probation period, which in this case is 3 months. Each dog is also assigned a ‘Dog Friendly Buddy’ to help them feel comfortable in their new environment. A second assessment then takes place by an independent specialist via 10 simple exercises. If they’re given the ‘paws up’ then each dog receives their very own ‘Passpawt’ which they must keep updated with regular health checks, vaccinations etc and also means they can join the Hall of Fame which showcases all office dogs permitted in the offices (which was unveiled while we were there!) Fantastic!!
ARE DOGS ALLOWED EVERYWHERE?
So you can see it’s a very thorough process (which is why it is successful) but what about day to day life of working with dogs in an office. Is it noisy? Is it smelly? Is there mess everywhere? The simple answer is, no! The Nestlé HQ is a huge open plan office, so the potential for noise etc is huge, but because of careful planning, we didn’t see any evidence of this at all. Yes, dogs are next to their owners desk, but all owners have to take responsibility for the area immediately around them (so clean bed, water bowl etc) and the dogs are kept on a lead so they’re not running around everywhere which could be a Health & Safety nightmare!
There are also clearly labelled areas which are and are not dog friendly, so there’s no confusion about where a dog should be. This avoids any issues with those without a dog. After all, it is important an office is an inclusive area for everyone. This is helped by the Pets At Work team providing a Pet Etiquette Guide for all dog owners, with helpful reminders dotted around the office space so there’s no excuses for forgetting.
A WALK IN THE…BARK?!
As if this wasn’t enough, Nestlé have also provided special areas within their office site for owners to let their dogs have a run around. Owners can choose from Scentral Bark or Hyde Bark, depending on what they fancy! All materials are supplied from local businesses, which helps give back to the wider community. There is also specialist dog friendly parking allocated to those who require it. For example, one employee has a slightly older dog who finds stairs from the usual car park a struggle. Nestlé acknowledged this and created several parking spaces closer to the office for those who need it most.
REGULAR HEALTH CHECKS
In addition to the above, there are regular health checks offered on site at the offices with trained veterinary nurses on hand to check any issues and ensure the Passpawts are up to date with vaccinations, to ensure all dogs on site are protected from any health issues. Given that currently there are over 50 dogs on site (with this number set to grow too!) health is key, in order to continue the success of the programme. Over time, Nestlé are also hoping to offer a regular grooming booth on site from time to time as well. As it was a special anniversary, many of the dogs were treated while we were there! Well the dogs want to look their best, don’t they?!!
One of the things which has impressed us the most, is the way in which Nestlé are so approachable. If a staff member has an idea, it is discussed and where feasible, implemented. Obviously not all companies are as large as Nestlé or have the budget to implement all these incredible extras, but they do have the ability to be more approachable about the subject of dogs in the office. It doesn’t need to be a contentious subject if it is approached in a practical way. The Pets At Work (PAW) scheme should demonstrate that with a positive attitude, open dialogue and clear guidelines ALL employers should be able to accommodate suitable dogs in an office environment. It is also worth noting the health and wellbeing benefits experienced by staff, by accommodating dogs in an office environment, which is a topic we’ll be focusing on in a separate blog very soon. In the meantime, if you or your employer would like to know more about Pets At Work (PAW), click HERE for more information.
A big THANK YOU to Richard Watson (Regional Director of Purina UK), Marta Resio (Communication Manager of Purina UK) and Ashley Zacarias (Account Manager) for allowing us to be part of the special event and taking additional time to speak with us further about the Pets At Work (PAW) programme, which we think is incredible. A further huge THANK YOU to our fabulous friend, Rachel Oates and her brilliant photography skills (aren’t the photos gorgeous?!!) Be sure to check out her website HERE.
In the meantime, why not vote in our first poll to see if you agree dogs should be allowed at work! We’d also love to hear your experiences (good or bad!)