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BigCommerce’s Downtown Austin office, home to their product & engineering teams, hasn’t always been a pet-friendly workplace due to building restrictions. However, due to a change in policy with their building lease, they had the opportunity to allow one dog in each office per day. The Downtown Culture Club eagerly volunteered to create the K9 Committee, a team made up of pet-passionate employees, to strategically collect feedback and concerns from the office to create a dog-friendly policy that worked for all employees.
BigCommerce’s K9 Committee drives the pet-friendly policy, which takes pressure off of HR. This has worked well for the company and made the creation and support of the policy much easier. Currently, BigCommerce’s building lease allows for only one dog per day in the office.
After surveying company employees, it was decided to further limit dogs in the office to only three days per week. This allows people with allergies to have a break from exposure, or special company lunches/events to occur with no pets in the office on these days. The company also purchased special air purifying filters to further alleviate concerns by allergy-prone employees.
BigCommerce’s policies go beyond bringing dogs to work. Through the company’s benefits package, they offer a pet insurance option to all employees. Their pet-friendly policies can then benefit all pet owners, not just those that bring their dogs to the office.
“Having dogs in the office makes everyone happier!”
All employees who participate in the program are required to bring their dog into the building on a leash. Within the BigCommerce office, however, the dogs tend to roam around and pay visits to team members. All of the creature comforts of home such as dog beds and water bowls, are provided by the company. They also have little doggie gates for employees to keep their pet by their desk.
BigCommerce’s K9 Committee helps “onboard” the pet (filling out forms, making sure vaccines are current, etc.) The committee then shares a Google calendar that employees use to sign up for days to bring their pet to the office. It’s on a first-come, first-served, honor-based system. The goal is to make this process as simple as possible, while also giving visibility to all employees regarding which dog will be present. So far, it’s worked well for the company.
With Austin being the allergy capital of Texas, allergies are a big concern. BigCommerce takes this into account for their pet-friendly policy. The Culture Club holds regular check-ins with employees who have dog allergies to make sure they aren’t suffering too much. They also make sure the cleaning crew does everything they can to keep pet hair/dander cleaned up.
The only challenge the company faces is that there is no immediate area for pets to get a bathroom break or play. Employees make it work by walking their dog across the street.
The company stresses the importance of getting feedback from employees before rolling out a pets-at-work program. This helps employees voice concerns if they have an issue with dogs in the workplace before a policy is put into place.
The Culture Club also recommends doing some fun, pet-related activities in the office to get people excited about the new policy. One thing they did was create a “dog wall” that has pictures of all employees’ pets. A few employees included pictures of their cats and there is even a picture of an employee’s horse pinned on the wall.
Overall, the biggest piece of advice BigCommerce offers is to make sure the policy works for your company and fits your company’s culture.
The management team at Austin-based voice-to-text services company Rev.com believes in the benefits of allowing dogs in the company office.
Whether through a lack of pet-oriented benefits or a lack of pet-friendly policies, many workplaces are poorly equipped to accommodate the needs of pets and their owners.