Vikalp Srivastava, a Gurgaon-based information technology (IT) professional working for a multinational firm, had a secret desire of years: “I would love to work for a company that allows me to bring my pet to workplace.” But his company did not.
So, earlier this month, Srivastava teamed up with his wife and set up Cafe Canine, a pet-friendly getaway near Bhondsi village on the outskirts of Gurgaon. This cafe, open over the weekend, allows families to walk in with their pets. It has a dedicated space for dogs to socialise, grooms pets, and has also kept aside a separate play area for kids. The cafeteria’s pitch on its Facebook page is: “Pets are welcome here, leashes are not”.
Cafe Canine is not alone in this pitch; several offices in India, especially of start-ups and small businesses, seem to be adopting this tag line and opening their doors to pets.
In Chennai, The Start-up Centre, a hub and accelerator for early-stage tech start-ups, has Miko, a nine-month old Labrador-Dobermann mix, as its in-house dog mascot. “At one point, we had three dogs at the workplace,” says Vijay Anand, founder and chief executive of The Start-up Centre, which allows those working out of the hub to bring their pets.
While pets need to be home-trained before being brought to the workplace, most pet-friendly offices have dedicated space for them.
The high of sharing your workspace with your beloved pet is regarded by many pet lovers as a big stress buster. “Taking Miko out for walks, or playing around with him in office can be very relaxing, especially in a high-pressure start-up environment,” says Anand. At times, Miko acts as the conversation-breaker in office, helping employees gel well with one another.
Smita Rajgopal, founder and creative director of Smitten, a communication and design firm, brings her three-year-old kitten, FM, to her Chennai office. One of her associates in Mumbai office gets a gold fish to work. Of her attachment with her pet, Rajgopal says: “I work so that she has a good life.” She makes it a point to add it is made sure the employees take responsibility for their pets.
June Software, which is into developing e-learning and mobile applications and has offices in Pune and San Francisco, has customised its work space for its in-house dog, Charlie, a five-year-old Labrador. “We spent around Rs 35,000 on training Charlie to be workplace-friendly,” says founder Roby John.
At Goa-based branding and design studio, Beard Design, the in-house pet mascot, Bodoni, is considered part of the start-up team, says founder Abhishek Sarda. Similarly, each property of hospitality chain Lemon Tree Hotels adopts a street dog that is taken care of by the hotel team. Though the chain does not allow guests to walk in with pets, or employees to bring their pets to the properties, it treats each dog as a mascot for its properties.
Some start-ups are even using their pet-friendly tag to hire talent. “We have been able to hire a few talented individuals because we allow pets to office,” says Rana Atheya, co-founder, Dogspot.in, a pet product portal.
However, some of the multinational companies that follow a pet-friendly policy globally -Autodesk and Google, for example – do not do so in India.
They cite lack of support from building owners and facility management companies. “We are pet-friendly in offices that have supporting infrastructure,” says Noah Cole, director (corporate public relations & social media), Autodesk Inc. Cole, based out of Autodesk’s Portland office in the US, himself brings his dog to work.
Once India’s infrastructure is ready to allow pets in buildings, companies will start practising their pet-friendly policies for workplaces, says Atheya. Many like Vikalp Srivastava would then be able to live their dream of sharing their workplace with their pets.
PET PEEVE ADDRESSED?
Some firms with pet-friendly policies in India
- Cafe Canine, Gurgaon
- The Start-up Centre, Chennai
- Smitten, Chennai/ Mumbai
- June Software, Pune
- Beard Design, Goa
- Lemon Tree Hotels (across India)
- Dogspot.in, Gurgaon
Some MNCs with pet-friendly policies globally, but not in India
- Autodesk Inc
- Google Inc