Benefits & Challenges of the Dog-Friendly Workplace

benefits-and-challenges-of-the-dog-friendly-workplace

If you’re a dog owner, you understand the struggle of leaving your dogs at home for the majority of each workday.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an alternative?

I recently closed a commercial real estate lease transaction for a startup company based in Southern California that provides employees a unique perk – a dog-friendly workplace. I enjoyed working with a client who is as passionate about animals as I am. Here is what I learned through helping them find their office space.

The Benefits

  • Those who bring their dogs to work see a decrease in stress (by 11%, compared to a 70% rise in stress among those who left pets at home), along with strengthened teamwork and employee satisfaction, according to a 2012 Virginia Commonwealth University study.
  • Dogs in the office “lower heart rate, and blood pressure, and make individuals who work alone feel less lonely”, according to Stephen Colarelli, a Central Michigan University psychologist.
  • Bringing dogs to work increases the perception of friendliness and approachability in the office environment, according to Colarelli.

The Challenges

There are many reasons why most commercial landlords will not accept a dog-friendly tenant. Dog allergies or phobias can arise. Noise complaints in a professional setting can be disruptive. Altercations can occur with other dogs. Coworkers simply may not feel comfortable being around dogs for long periods of time.

Landlords or building operators are obligated to keep all of these issues in mind. They need to consider the impact that a dog-friendly workplace has on both the single tenant and all of the occupying tenants of the premises.

If your company is contemplating becoming dog-friendly, I would advise you to first understand the lifestyles and needs of your current employees and then evaluate whether this route is still the one you would like to take.

For companies in earlier stages of growth, I would recommend implementing a recruiting strategy to attract hires who will thrive in a dog-friendly professional environment.

The Real Estate Result

Throughout my 17 years of experience in commercial real estate transactions, this was the first dog-friendly company that I had the pleasure of serving. In this case, the client had two options:

(1) Renegotiate their current lease terms, or

(2) Relocate to a new, dog-friendly building in the same market.

Despite scouring the market for alternative sites, it made the most sense for the client to remain in their current space. Our team successfully negotiated a lease for the company at 30% below average market rates in their existing dog-friendly building, which was one of two dog-friendly buildings in their market.

As a commercial real estate advisor, I strive to consider the big picture, including how different occupational issues can affect my clients. The typical workplace is being restructured to adapt to evolving employee needs. It will be interesting to see how the trend of the dog-friendly workplaces continues as we see this ongoing shift. I look forward to finding solutions to these new commercial real estate challenges along with my team.

Are you considering a dog-friendly workplace?

Here are some articles that may help you get your landlord on board:

Want more information on how to navigate the real estate challenges involved in creating a dog-friendly workplace? Let’s get in touch, and I will see how I can help.

julie_dunlap_1Julie Dunlap, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services, brings 17+ years of experience in commercial real estate brokerage, investment, management, and consulting.  Email Julie today at jdunlap@mckinneyadvisory.com, or call  858.519.3247