Over the past year and a half, millions of Americans turned to their pets to keep them company during the pandemic. And although many employers are pushing for a return to in-person work, working dog parents are reluctant to go back to pre-pandemic work conditions.
Dog-focused e-commerce company BARK found in a new survey that 72% of dog owners who have returned to the workplace miss their dog while at the office — a far greater percentage than those who miss the savings from not commuting (37%), their partner (39%) or their children (35%). Another 71% of those who are still working remotely believe they will miss their dog when it's their turn to return to in-person work.
These sentiments have also translated into a desire for better care for their furry friends — and many want employers to meet them halfway on this concern.
After more than a year spent working from home, dog parents want to bring their pets with them to the office
According to the BARK survey, 70% of dog parents reported a stronger relationship with their pet as a result of the pandemic — much more than those who said the same about their spouses (49%), kids (39%), friends (31%) or parents (28%).
About a third of respondents said that, over the past year, they leaned on their pup for company (33%) and emotional support (30%) more than they ever have before. However, the mass return to the workplace is threatening to change all of that.
While more than 2 in 10 working pet owners expect to accommodate their pet's needs during this time by investing extra money in additional support or adjusting their work situation entirely, over 2 in 10 agree that their lives would improve if they were able to bring their pet to work with them. Specifically, the BARK report indicated that:
- 32% would be happier and less stressed at work
- 28% believe their life would be more convenient
- 20% believe they'd be more productive at work
Dog owners push for greater pet benefits from their employers
Despite these sentiments, however, only 10% of dog parents report that their employer updated their policies to allow for pets in the office — 78% report no changes have been made to their pet workplace policy at all.
Interestingly, the number of dog owners pushing for greater pet benefits mirror the figures for parents who want the same for their children, particularly those who believe that:
- Employers should offer additional targeted benefits as part of the employee benefit package (42% of dog parents versus 37% of parents)
- They should be allowed to bring their children to the office (28% versus 15%)
- Employers should provide care services at or near the office (28% versus 29%)
Another survey from MetLife showed that 20% of millennial workers (between the ages of 26 and 40) are interested in pet insurance for their furry friends as well. Together, these figures suggest just how important these policies would be for dog parents returning to the workplace.
Meanwhile, BARK’s survey showed that respondents who are allowed to bring their dog to work admit that some changes could improve the experience for pup and parent alike. For instance, only a few pet parents say that their employer offers:
- Food and water (45%)
- Treats (42%)
- Dog-walking services (38%)
- Toys (33%)
- Dog-proofed environment free of exposed wires, toxic products and open food (32%)
- Relief zones in or near the office (25%)
Others say they would feel more comfortable bringing their pet to work if their employer provided a designated indoor area for play (37%), treats (36%) or a dog-proof environment (31%).
Methodology: On behalf of BARK, Kelton Global conducted a survey between Aug. 11-18, 2021 of 1,074 employed Americans (ages 18 and up) who currently own at least one dog.