Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
With new thinking on four-legged executives in the workplace, could a furry friend be considered a com-pet-itive edge for your business.
One of our clients organises an annual awards event, followed up by a day out for the winners. Usually, it’s modestly attended. Maybe a third of the winners will take time out for a lunch in town. Which is a pity, since the others miss out on the real benefit of an intimate networking opportunity, where real business gets done among equally ambitious peers. So, in an effort to encourage better attendance, they invited the winners to lunch at a local brewery - which brought a little more interest. Then they added the coup de grace and said guests could visit the brewery’s Shire Horses, stabled on site. With that, attendance shot up to a full house bar one. Obviously, there’s an animal attraction at work.
We’re not suggesting you bring My LIttle Pony to work - unless you run a stables or work with a really, really horsey set - but a growing number of businesses are finding that there’s a benefit to having a non-executive around the office who doesn’t mind being tickled behind the ears and stroked luxuriously.
Commercial concerns that cater for would-be pet owners have been around for some time. Originating in stressed-out Japan, the cat cafe concept has now reached these shores. There’s a successful venture in Edinburgh, where a cuppa and a cat come at a premium, and bookings are necessary.
In the workplace, the concept of a canine or feline has been an informal one, with the consent of the team usually sought in advance. Not much fun if a spangly-eyed spaniel snuggles up to a red-eyed allergy sufferer. So do make sure everyone is cool with your canine before introducing them to the two-legged members of staff.
If your deputy dog or corporate cat performs a useful workplace function, there may even be a valid reason for claiming allowable expenses. That’s something to raise with our staff here at Springfords.
Plus you may well meet with a sympathetic ear at our friends in HMRC. Recently, an Edinburgh tax office was treated to a visit from the Canine Concern Scotland Trust, who brought along some of their "therapet" collie-leagues for a cuddle and stroke session. The visit was organised by the Trust and, while contributing to staff wellbeing, it also contributed to the welfare-through-animal-contact charity too.
Whether your environment is a high-pressure workplace; a stressed-out exam room; or even a high-dependency hospital ward, there are examples of animal-related therapy all around us.
For many years, there’s been a church in central Edinburgh where worshipers are greeted by the parish priest and the church cat, who’s attentions are especially welcome on a winter morning when the heating struggles to chase the cold from the gothic building.
A Borders cafe has grown in popularity, and the owner’s lazy dog, who sleeps by the door raising hardly an eyebrow to guests, has been part of the success. Then there’s the suburban library in Edinburgh where a local feline flaunts the rules on pet admittance, much to the chagrin of canines left tied up in the grounds. Being a cat, he probably does it on purpose.
Whatever the reasons, responsibly managed visits or residencies by animals do seem to be largely good for morale. However, if it’s going to be a pair of shire horses, it’s probably best to organise a visit to them, rather than the other way around.