Pet Owners Resist the Return to Office

Published 14 July 2021


American workers are starting to return to the office, but pet owners remain hesitant: 40% are anxious that being away from home will affect their pet’s wellbeing (Rover, 2021). Their anxieties illustrate how the pandemic prompted workers to prioritise holistic attitudes toward workplace wellbeing, as we detail in Work’s Flexible Future.

Pet Owners Resist the Return to Office

Pet owners are anxious that returning to the office will affect their pet’s wellbeing

While the majority of employees are eager for hybrid work environments with in-person collaboration, pet-owners are not. In the US, 67% of dog owners would consider switching jobs if they could no longer work remotely full-time (Honest Paws, 2021). It’s a question of both practicality and emotion: 79% of American pet owners noted that their animals seemed happier with them around, and 82% said they themselves were happier working with their pet alongside (Merck, 2021). Physical health is another factor: 42% of US dog owners said working from home encouraged them to take midday walks with their pets (Honest Paws, 2021).

There’s also the question of separation anxiety. The behaviour changes many pet owners noted in their animals during early pandemic lockdowns that resulted from drastic shifts in routine, are likely to occur again once their owners to return to work. Seventy-eight per cent of owners think this could be addressed through pet-friendly workplace policies (Wellness Natural, 2021). However, it also presents an opportunity for shrewd pet brands to offer products and services that allow owners to provide remote entertainment for their animals – see Global Pet Expo 2018 and 2021 for details.

As companies update their work policies for post-pandemic routines, there should be a greater appreciation of employees’ needs resulting from their personal obligations – whether that’s being a pet owner, parent or caregiver.

For more on pandemic-era pet ownership, see The Pet Care Boom. For more on the pandemic’s impact on employees’ mental health, see The Silent Pandemic.