As more organizations start to institute hybrid work policies and usher employees back to the office, there is a push to introduce novel and experimental benefits to ease the transition and maintain morale. One law firm has decided to take a unique approach to calm its attorneys and staff during the change by going to the dogs — literally.
The law firm of Charles, Russell & Patterdale is opening its doors to dogs of attorneys and staff by hosting weekly “Furry Fridays” when personnel are encouraged to bring their special companions to work.
“People have become accustomed to working from home, and asking them to suddenly disrupt their routines can be jarring,” said Jackson Russell, the firm’s managing partner. “So why not have a little bit of home join you in the office?”
To help the firm prepare for the four-legged friends that will be allowed to wander throughout the office corridors, which span several floors of a downtown building, the management committee recruited the assistance of a consultancy that specializes in developing and implementing workplace pet policies.
“Science has shown that pets have the power to soothe, particularly in high-stress situations,” said Edward Prince, director of communications at Humane Resources Inc. The consultancy has provided its services to a number of Fortune 500 companies, airports and municipalities, and says it is seeing a rise in demand for its expertise as more employees return to the office. “These pet policies only work if the pets are also free of stress themselves. That’s where we come in. We provide recommendations that help create a welcoming and thoughtful environment for our furry friends.”
As part of the policy rollout, Charles, Russell & Patterdale will be outfitting its common areas with special features, including ground-level water fountains and indoor relief areas. A variety of treats will be offered, including vegan and grain-free options to accommodate dietary needs.
The firm also plans on staffing up to meet the new demands of a pet-friendly office. Firm management has put out a call for a first-ever CPO — Chief Pet Officer. The fractional employee will be in charge of pet wrangling, food administering and cleaning up the aforementioned relief areas. It’s being touted as a dream job for dogwalkers.
“We believe this will be a new normal,” Russell said. “Companies — law firms included — need to understand that personnel are people, and we have to be more creative in how we cater to the human aspect of our human resources. If welcoming non-humans into the office is a step in the right direction, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
And in case it wasn’t clear: April Fools’!
While “Furry Fridays” might be fake, creating a positive workplace culture is very real. Jaffe encourages law firms to embrace empathy, solicit attorneys and staff for input, and communicate effectively to maintain an engaged workforce.