More workplaces become pet friendly in post-COVID world

Richard Fox and Miss Pink, Katrina Couchman and Cooper, and Michael Dixon and Millie. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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As pet ownership has increased since the pandemic, so have the number of workplaces advertising themselves as pet-friendly, meaning more and more furry friends are popping up in the office.

At WOTSO Penrith, this has been the saving grace for many dogs, and owners.

“During COVID, a lot of people got their dogs because they were home, and then there was a bit of separation anxiety when people had to come back to the office and leave their dogs at home,” said Space Manger of WOTSO Penrith, Katrina Couchman.

“Whereas, they can just bring them to WOTSO, and then it’s happy for the dog and the owner, too.”

But, this accommodation is nothing new for WOTSO.

“WOTSO has been dog friendly since the beginning,” she said.

“It’s just great for people to be able to bring their pets to work. It’s good for mental health, and it’s also a fantastic ice breaker to get members talking to each other and getting to know each other. They’ll always want to get to know the dogs first before they get to know the human!”

The shared workspace has up to six dogs that come and go, with the most regular being Michael Dixon’s Millie.

When it comes to the benefits of having dogs in the office, Ms Couchman assures that they’re not only for pets and their owners, but for others in the space.

“Cooper was hit by a car and he had to have cage rest for six weeks, I could bring him to work and put him in the cage. If any of the dogs have any injuries, or have to be kept under supervision for 24 hours, people can just bring them to work and keep an eye on them if they need any medical attention,” she said.

“It’s also good for people who don’t have pets for whatever reason. Some people don’t have pets because they travel too much and so they can’t really commit to a pet, but they’ll really pamper other people’s pets when they bring them in, which is nice too.”

To ensure that everyone is comfortable, Ms Couchman ensures that WOTSO’s policies are heard loud and clear.

“We have a pet policy, so before they first bring their pet everybody is given that, and it’s also on the noticeboards,” she said.

“We like to keep them on leads at all times within the workspace, because some people don’t like dogs, some people are allergic to dogs, some people are afraid of dogs, so we don’t want them to feel intimidated.”

According to Indeed, job advertisements that list a workplace as pet-friendly have doubled in the past two years, with more and more businesses tipped to make the change as they become more desperate for workers.

For Ms Couchman, this is a no-brainer.

“I think that more workplaces should be pet friendly,” she said.

“All the dogs that come are well behaved, because they’re used to going places with the owners.”

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