By Courtney Hamm, VP/General Manager with MB Real Estate at 1 N. LaSalle
We’ve all been there. You find out you have to stay late at the office. Or even worse, you have to come in over the weekend. It’s becoming more common nowadays to spend an ever-growing amount of time at work.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. There are ways to make this reality more appealing and reduce stress for employees.
One option is a dog-friendly building policy.
Building owners should consider this policy when attempting to make their spaces more than just four walls in which to conduct business. A dog-friendly policy can lead to improved morale and a more positive work environment for tenants. For business owners who office at your building, it’s an office perk that can help with recruiting and retaining employees.
Before doing so, however, there are several important areas for property managers to keep in mind.
Keep the Rules on a Tight Leash
You must have a well-vetted policy in place before allowing dogs into the building.
The first step is to develop a buttoned-up plan that accounts for all scenarios and covers a variety of topics, including:
- Leash requirements – Lay out rules designating space in the building where dogs will be allowed to roam and where leashes will be required.
- Transportation to and from the offices – Consider having dogs use the freight elevator to ensure all tenants – including non-pet owners – feel comfortable and safe as they make their way to work.
- Weight restrictions – Limit the weight of dogs to approximately 50 pounds or less. While your Saint Bernard might be the friendliest dog in the world, its size may not be compatible with a professional work setting.
- Behavioral and health rules – Make sure that the dogs are well-behaved, and have rules in place to handle violations. Additionally, ensure that dogs are healthy by requiring vaccination records.
The policy should be drafted in conjunction with your building’s legal team and provide ample lead time for tenants to learn about it. Be meticulous in rolling out the policy to avoid unexpected complications, misunderstandings or even aversion from tenants.
Getting Everyone Up to Speed
After the policy is created, ensure that all building staff are fully on board and understand it.
You can hold meetings to go through all facets of the plan and allow them to ask any questions. In these gatherings, you should include everyone from security and engineering to the day porters. Often times, seeing dogs in the building every day is an enjoyable experience for staff.
Likewise, educate tenants about the policy and encourage them to sign up by hosting events, such as happy hours, where dogs are welcome to join.
Enable a Plan to Handle “Accidents”
As any dog owner knows, accidents can happen unexpectedly. In my experiences, these have been rare in dog-friendly buildings, but you should have a plan in place for clean up.
Remember, they can happen anywhere. This is another reason why it’s recommended to require dogs to take the freight elevator only to avoid accidents happening in close proximity to other tenants.
If all of these steps are taken, dog-friendly building policies will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms. This is especially true among younger tenants. Surprisingly, I’ve also seen more traditional tenants embrace these policies, too.
People can’t help but smile when they see dogs, especially in unexpected places like an office building.