Pets in the Workplace
We recently discussed the pros and cons of pets in the workplace. I have personal experience of how animals at work can be both fabulously beneficial and terribly inconvenient!
Many years ago I was on the board of a distribution company which was located close to Heathrow Airport. One of my fellow directors owned a rather appealing Labrador called Lucy and would occasionally bring the dog to work with him. Our staff loved that dog so much that her arrival was always greeted with the sort of reception that would usually be reserved for celebrities. The production workers would barely stop short of rolling out the red carpet and one guy kept a jar of biscuits in his locker for when Lucy put in an appearance.
Dogs are Motivating but Distracting
Lucy was clearly wonderful for morale which I am sure boosted productivity during the times when the staff weren’t playing with the dog. Unfortunately they played with the dog a lot! Then there was the fact that Lucy’s owner would often make visits to clients during the day leaving me to tackle toilet breaks and the lunchtime walk. That was fine if I didn’t happen to have anything important to do. But it was difficult to tell a client that I hadn’t completed their project because I was walking a Labrador in Staines Park.
A More Interesting Visitor
Things took an interesting turn when my impending house move was delayed. I had been forced to vacate my previous property a few weeks before I could move into the next one. I lodged with my parents and sent my cats to board at the cattery by my other pet was much trickier to find lodgings for and so I took her to work.
The staff were clearly very excited when they saw me arrive with a large box. They were probably looking forward to some fun times playing with a cute bunny and so were a little shocked when then met Cleo for the first time. Cleo was a 7ft boa constrictor that sent some workers running for the farther reaches of the warehouse!
The Client Visit
Cleo proved to be an unobtrusive boarder for the most part. I kept her vivarium under the stairs where visitors could not see it and most of the staff were too scared to approach her. Everything was going well until the Operations Manager asked if he could meet Cleo. I told him to wait in the boardroom and then removed Cleo from her vivarium. But as I was about to open the boardroom door she started to wrap herself around the door handle. She didn’t want to let go and so two minutes later I found myself engaged in a battle with the constrictor.
There I was standing in the lobby engaging in a game of tug of war with the snake when I turned round to see one of my most important customers standing there watching the proceedings. They calmly asked if was available for a quick meeting. I informed them that I would be delighted to have a meeting but that I might be while! Then the operations manager opened the door from the inside having heard the hullabaloo and nearly squashed Cleo’s head against the wall.
In that moment I decided that some pets probably weren’t suitable for the workplace! Having said that, my client gave me a significant new project to handle when we finally sat down for that meeting. I don’t think that this had anything to do with Cleo though!