’s Top Pet-Friendly Places to Work 2014's top pet-friendly places to work 2014

Turner and Hooch. The Aristocats. Stuart Little (sort of). All great Hollywood movies featuring pets as the protagonists. However, what if you were to take our four-legged friends and place them into the office environment? It worked for Tom Hanks…

The debate has long raged as to whether having pets in the workplace can have a positive or negative impact on the productivity and well-being of the office. In a recent survey we conducted, almost half of UK workers said they would work better if they had a pet by their side.

To find out which companies have embraced the notion of pets in the office, we’ve spoken to some of the top UK employers who champion their presence.

Next Model Management

What pet-friendly policies do you have in place?
A few members of the team have pet dogs and are allowed to bring them into the agency every day, provided they ensure they are properly cared for and that they are not disruptive to anyone’s working day. There are water bowls dotted around the office and model lounge, along with a doggy bed area.
How many staff members take advantage of these policies?
The president of our London offices, Amanda Bretherton, has 3 dogs – two Pomeranian-Poodles and a Yorkie-poo who are a much loved daily part of the Next London family.

Our Director of PR Katy Moseley has 2 Shar-pei’s who occasionally come to the agency. Next Talent’s Creative Director Sarah Leon also brings her boyfriend’s Spaniel to work now and then. Our models are always popping in with their dogs too –Leah Weller has a Chihuahua that she brings in.
Do you know the pet’s names? (or just a selection if too many to name)
There’s Max, Maddy and the uber fabulous, Alfie Fashion Dog (Instagram: @alfiefashiondog). Missy and Leon the Shar-pei’s and Sarah’s spaniel is called Chester.
Have you noticed any benefits to having animals around the workplace?

Are there any plans to develop your pet-friendly policies further in the future?
We are always open to having pets in the agency and will continue to do so.


What pet-friendly policies do you have in place? Are they Firebox pets or are employees allowed to bring their own pets to work?
Employers are allowed to bring their own pets to work at Firebox. That’s to work, not to ‘work’. We don’t force them to dance for us, other than the occasional dog modelling for pet orientated products of course. But they love getting stuck in.

How many staff members take advantage of these policies?
We currently have two staff members from our in-house Design team that take their dogs into work daily, and two other dog owners that bring their pets in on occasion. We’ll imminently have a new addition courtesy of our Buying team too, which the office is very excited about.

Do you know the pets names?
We have a Jack Russell named Max and a Japanese Chin called Gizmo. We’ve also got two office goldfish named Guinevere and Junior.

What are the benefits to having animals around the workplace?
The relationship is mutually beneficial to both Firebox employees and Firebox pets. The pets have a positive impact on the office. They certainly have stress relieving qualities (apart from for their respective owners!), they bring everyone together, and provide almost endless entertainment value.

They sit in on meetings, greet the postman and couriers, and are always on hand to provide comic relief on an almost hourly basis. As for the dogs, they enjoy the attention and affection, and get to be part of a group/pack atmosphere which they thrive on.

Are there any plans to develop your pet-friendly policies for staff further in the future?
Other than allowing other staff members to also bring in their pets to work, we have no set plans. Just to encourage even more! We’ve only had employees bring dogs in so far, but other mammals/birds/reptiles may also be considered. We might even adopt a Noah’s Ark style policy – at least two of each type of animal must be brought in.


What pet-friendly policies do you have in place at CTJT?
You have to be a cat lover to work here. If you’re not, you soon will be! We just have Fluff, the office cat. I think she’d be pretty annoyed if anyone bought in another pet, as she’s very jealous. Although her boyfriend, Digby, sometimes pops in to share her food.

Have you noticed any benefits to having animals around the workplace?
Fluff keeps us all happy: she’s a wonderful safety valve when things are busy or tense. It’s difficult to shout at a colleague when you’ve got a cat sitting on your keyboard or chasing her tail on the edge of the desk.

How else does fluff get involved around the office?
We launched a ‘Chat to your Cat’ course earlier this year. Fluff is the tutor: she even gives video feedback on student’s assignments.
We launched the course because Fluff was so popular on our company Facebook page. Our Likes almost doubled when she made her debut, and we get complaints if we don’t post her photos regularly!

The course has serious content: it’s written by a senior veterinary nurse and has some great tips about understanding cats’ moods and fraternising with felines. There are three Lessons. Each lesson has an assignment to complete with your cat.

1. Building purrfect communiCATion
2. Solving your cat’s problems
3. Stopping the fur flying

The course is tongue-in-cheek though. Both Fluff, and the course author mark students’ work. And when students pass, their cat gets a special CTJT rosette.

Are there any plans to develop your pet-friendly policies further in the future?
This depends on Fluff. She would put her paw down, firmly, if we tried to introduce another cat, or a dog. But she’s not averse to the occasional mouse …

View all courses available with CTJT »

Blue Cross

What pet-friendly policies do you have in place?
Blue Cross welcomes dogs in their offices as long as they are well behaved and owners have their manager’s permission to bring their dog to work.

How many staff members take advantage of these policies?
Blue Cross has lots of rehoming centres, animal hospitals and administrative offices across the country where dogs regularly come to work. At our offices in Oxfordshire there are around 30 dogs under, near or sometimes even on desks!

What are the benefits to having animals around the workplace?
Blue Cross is a leading pet charity and we know how rewarding it is to be a pet owner. There are lots of benefits to having a well-behaved dog in the office. Pets can be very calming and provide a bit of light relief when it gets hectic. Having your dog in the office with you also means you take regular breaks and some exercise while walking your dog throughout the day. And not only the dog owners benefit as you will often find someone who wants to join you on your walk.

Are there any plans to develop your pet-friendly policies for staff further in the future?
No, we talk to individual owners on a case by case basis if they ask to bring their dog in the office and it is up to their line manager and other colleagues – so long as the dog is trained and well behaved!

Pets at Home

93% of Pets at Home colleagues own pets so a large number of them get to benefit from the pet-friendly policies the company has in place. These benefits include generous colleague discounts on the full range of products, veterinary care and insurance but perhaps most notably the chance to take your pet to work. In the Support Office 77% of colleagues own pets and so the office is always full of dogs – the average day will see 20 through the doors.

UK businesses could easily adopt the trend of taking pets to work, advises Pets at Home, as a recent study by Virginia Commonwealth University in the US shows the benefits can be huge:

• 25% of people said dogs positively affected their productivity
• Throughout the day, average stress level scores fell about 11% among workers who had brought their dogs to work, while they increased 70% for those who did not

Pets at Home is dedicated to improving benefits for colleagues and their pets. For example, it is currently looking at introducing “PETernity” leave where colleagues can have time off to welcome or settle a new pet member into the family.

Angie Keay, multi-channel designer at Pets at Home, brings her Yorkshire-Border terrier cross Chesney to work at the head office in Cheshire every day:

Dogs Trust

Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust CEO, says: “Dogs can be a wonderful addition to a working environment providing employers make provisions to ensure a pet policy is in place and the set up is practicable.”

“It is important to consider the practical elements of having a dog in the office, which require a little planning. A comfortable, quiet place for your dog to relax, a water bowl nearby and regular walks and attention are all essential to factor in.”

See for yourself

For a slide show of some of the pets who inhabit the Top UK Pet-Friendly Places to Work, see below:

You can also embed this slide show in to your own site using the code below. Feel free to adjust the height and width to fit with your own site layout.

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