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Pets Sharing Office Space

More than 63 percent of American households own a pet today, which equates to 71.1 million homes and a whopping 382.2 million pets, according to a recent American Pet Products Manufacturers Association survey of pet owners. So are the critters just hanging out at home, or are they going to work with their human companions?

Pets, it seems, are showing up in the workplace more than ever, with 30 percent of employers allowing workers to bring pets to the office, according to a recent consumer survey commissioned by The HON company, a leading designer and manufacturer of office furniture. Of those who actually bring their pets to work, the majority of Americans bring dogs (24 percent), followed by fish (12 percent) and cats (8 percent).

Visitors to The Warehouse Office Furniture Mart, a Cincinnati-based contract furnishing dealership that sells HON office furniture, can expect to be greeted by a couple of unusual “customer service representatives” when they enter the showroom. Jake and Woody, Labrador Retrievers owned by the company’s president, Jack Keane, can be seen daily at the dealership.

Since 2000, Keane has encouraged employees to bring in any well-behaved pet to spend the day in the company of the dealership’s staff and customers. He even encourages customers to bring their dogs along when they visit the showroom.

The affable and quite mannerly pair – often referred to as the “star customer relations team” – spend their days tethered on long leads in the 15,000-square-foot showroom’s office area. This arrangement allows them plenty of interaction with dog-loving customers but keeps them out of the way of the handful of those a little more canine-wary.

“We’ve had at least 95 percent positive feedback on Jake and Woody’s daily presence,” Keane says of the boys.

Keane’s business isn’t alone in cultivating a pet-friendly atmosphere. A recent search online at Simply Hired (www.simplyhired.com), an online job search engine, turned up 8,100 open jobs at pet-friendly companies, including natural candidates like PetSmart and IAMS Pet Food; but also big names such as Google, Amazon.com and even Dartmouth College.

There are other benefits to having pets in the office – millions of Americans believe pets on the job lower absenteeism and encourage workers to get along, according to responses from both the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association and HON surveys.

Keane feels having Jake and Woody in the showroom actually helps build top-of-mind awareness for his business, too.

“People definitely remember our showroom,” he says. “It’s a great way to reach out to customers, especially dog lovers, and make ourselves stand out from the competition.”

[Source: ABC13]