Our four-legged, fluffy companions have long stopped being regarded as just pets and have joined the ranks of family members for many of us. Amusing – and probably also true – headlines abound on social media stating that we take more photos of our pets than of our spouse. There’s also constant talk about how the millennial generation chooses to raise puppies instead of children. But all jokes aside, one thing is certain, Fido has left its paw-print on the residential market, turning old-fashioned multifamily communities into pet-centric properties featuring dog washing rooms, grooming stations, day boarding facilities, dog walking services, veterinary clinics, dog parks and even rooftop dog walks with special cleaning services.
In recent years, pets have started ‘invading’ the commercial real estate market, too. An increasing number of employees request a pet-friendly office policy from their employers; they say (and some studies attest it) that bringing their pets to work boosts their morale, makes them feel more energized, lowers their stress levels and increases productivity. As such, employers, especially those in creative industries, as well as owners of co-working spaces, have begun paying attention to this new trend, in a move meant to retain and attract valuable people to work for them. As with everything new, there are still a lot of wrinkles to iron out, but by the looks of it, pet-friendly policies are becoming more common in office spaces.
That being said, as a tenant in search of pet-friendly office space, you must be aware of the whole picture. While there are, indeed, many favorable aspects to having your employees bring their pets to work, there are also factors you need to take into account when saying yes to having dogs, cats or any other animals in your workplace throughout the day. Below we’ll talk about the main factors to take into account when considering renting pet-friendly office space in New York City.
Limited pet-friendly office inventory
While it’s tempting to leave this aspect at the end of your wishlist when you talk to your broker about finding your firm a suitable place, don’t. Talk openly about this need during your first appointment as, although the share of landlords willing to accept pets in their buildings is growing, most of them are not. Don’t waste your time – and your broker’s time – by thinking that this way you’ll get to view more options and perhaps persuade the landlord into meeting this condition. Also, know that typically institutional owners and their fancy trophy buildings are less likely to lease space in their properties to business owners who will allow their employees to come accompanied by their pets. Smaller owners might be more open to this new trend, but under certain conditions.
Handle with caution
Say you got lucky and found a commercial landlord in New York City who is willing to accept pets in the building they own. Your next concern should be how to make the place suitable to humans and pets alike. Firstly you need to take into account health hazards. There are people who, despite their love of dogs and cats, are allergic to them. These allergies can range from mild to severe, but it’s enough that one of your employees has this condition to make it hard for them to come to work everyday. Ignoring this aspect can lead to liability and legal issues, so don’t overlook this, and make sure all your staff is on board with this policy. Next, you’ll want to figure out a way to install a separate enclosure for your work pets, so that they don’t become too distracting for employees. You might also want to come up with a schedule; if you have 100 employees, you don’t want them to all bring their pets to work on the same day – imagine having 100 dogs running around in the office.
Set clear rules
Say all your employees are in the clear and no one suffers from pet allergies. To ensure a fair environment to everyone in the workplace, you need to come up with a set of rules everyone has to follow. Make it clear that all dogs must be well-behaved and trained to not jump up on visitors, or suffer from some kind of separation anxiety. While it’s understandable that younger puppies might get excited or anxious from time to time, your unsuspecting guests or clients might not react very well to such behaviour. Consequently, you need to come up with a solution, such as creating an area where dogs can spend their day without interfering with day-to-day activity and visitors.
In addition, the pets should be healthy, vaccinated, clean and potty trained, and even so, accidents do happen. Make sure all pet owners understand this and clean after their furry friend in case such accidents occur. Furthermore, consider keeping a no-marking spray nearby to avoid repeat accidents in the same spot. Be aware that, should an incident of this nature be cleaned by the cleaning crew, the employee who owns that pet will be charged accordingly.
Put it in writing
When you make the decision to make your office space dog-friendly, you must acknowledge the legal implications. Be well aware of the fact that whatever happens on the premise will be your and your landlord’s responsibility. Worst case scenario, which is also one of the main reasons landlords are reluctant to accept pets in their buildings, is that if any of the dogs gets scared and bites someone, and that person decides to pursue legal action, they will hold liability. As a tenant who has approval from the landlord to allow pets enter the site, consider asking the pet owners to submit an application for their dog. This application should include the name, breed, weight, color, picture, proof of vaccinations, as well as updated vet records.
In the video below, Metro Manhattan Principal Broker Alan Rosinsky shares one of his experiences with a tech tenant looking for pet-friendly office space, as well as his insight on finding such space in New York City.
Are you thinking of setting up your business in a convenient location in Manhattan, and are looking to lease space in a modern building offering state-of-the-art amenities? Then reach out to us and we will show you worthwhile space situated right in the heart of New York City. To learn about available office space, call Metro Manhattan Office Space at (212) 444-2241 or email us at [email protected]