Of­fice pets cut stress, help morale

Com­pa­nies in Shang­hai find that ben­e­fits far out­weigh the mi­nor in­con­ve­niences

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Pet lover­s­may envy em­ploy­ees at some in­ter­net-re­lated com­pa­nies and cul­tural in­dus­tries in Shang­hai that al­low pets in the of­fice to make the work­place more re­laxed and en­joy­able.

Cats and dogs brought by work­ers — and even strays — are al­lowed to roam freely in some ar­eas, mostly around of­fices with a gar­den or open space.

Two cats have be­come im­por­tant mem­bers of M&C Saatchi, an ad­ver­tis­ing agency lo­cated in a down­town villa. Founder Tony Lau, from Hong Kong, said the im­proved work­ing at­mos­phere and team spirit far out­weigh the mi­nor dis­tur­bance of the pets.

“Cats have some­thing in com­mon with ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies, which are usu­ally open and cre­ative. More­over, cats are in­de­pen­dent and don’t re­quire our time or en­ergy,” Lau said.

Ac­count man­ager Zhao Mengx­ian said that while he doesn’t have strong feel­ings for pets, he doesn’t mind them strolling around.

“Play­ing with them has be­come a way to deal with stress when work­ing over­time,” the 32-year-old said.

Jay Thorn­hill, co-founder of Baopals.com, an e-com­merce plat­form for ex­pats, said a dog at the of­fice helps peo­ple feel less stressed and a bit more play­ful at work.

“It’s hard to feel an­gry when you have a cute furry face look­ing at you. More­over, the dog helps re­in­force our busi­ness cul­ture — that we want the of­fice to feel like a home and our team to feel like a fam­ily,” said Thorn­hill, a 30-year-old Amer­i­can.

When­ever peo­ple take a break or go for lunch some­where that wel­comes dogs, they bring him along, Thorn­hill said. After work they take him home ev­ery day, so he’s never alone.

Zhao Cong­chong, CEO of Shang­hai CCE Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Group, which also al­lows pets in the of­fice, said the pol­icy avoids pets be­ing left alone at home dur­ing the day­time.

“All the dogs and cats in our of­fice are brought by staff from home, and un­dergo med­i­cal check­ups reg­u­larly,” the 33-year-old Zhao said.

Shi Lin­lin, ad­min­is­tra­tive man­ager at M&C Saatchi, said some­one in her of­fice vol­un­teers to take charge of the cats, and when they get sick, the em­ploy­ees do­nate spon­ta­neously for ve­teri­nary fees.

The three com­pa­nies said they’ve heard of a cou­ple of oth­ers in Shang­hai that have pets in the of­fice, but no large firms.

“In­theUS, Google andA­ma­zon are known for al­low­ing dogs in the of­fice. And I think it’s no sur­prise that those two are also con­sid­ered two of the hap­pi­est places to work,” said Thorn­hill, who grew up with pets.

How­ever, some ex­pe­ri­enced pet keep­ers said bring­ing pets to the work­place can come with var­i­ous prob­lems.

“Pets may bring bugs and mites, so the of­fice must be vac­u­umed thor­oughly, reg­u­larly. And they can eas­ily scratch fur­ni­ture and de­stroy pa­per doc­u­ments,” said Zhang Jin, who keeps five cats at home. “More­over, buses and sub­ways ban pets, so it’s dif­fi­cult to com­mute with them.” Aus­tralian- Wang Yueyang con­trib­uted to this story.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

A dog waits in the of­fice where its owner works in Shang­hai.

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