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A Vision for Pet-Friendly Future Workplaces in Australia

Despite Australia having one of the highest rates of pet ownership*, almost 80% of employers are not ‘pet friendly’ or don’t allow pets in the workplace at all which leaves one third of Aussie pet owners 'concerned about their return to the office according to a recent survey.

● More than half (51%) of the nation say they are more likely to take on a new job with an employer who supports pets in the workplace. For Gen Z this number jumps to more than 70%.

Mars Petcare Australia has released its vision of Australia’s pet friendly ‘future workplaces’ – and partnered with RMIT University students to share their vision.

Mars Petcare Australia – the maker of well-known pet food brands including Pedigree®, Whiskas® and Optimum® – has released research that reveals 35% of Australian pet owners surveyed are concerned about their physical return to the office and its impact on their pet.

The top three concerns shared include pet loneliness (50%), personal guilt for being away (20%) and financial concerns around having to pay for a pet sitter or walking service (19%).

The research comes at a time where one-in-four (26%) of the Aussies surveyed say they became a new ‘pet parent’ in 2020. The majority were spurred on by COVID-19 restrictions that allowed them to work from home or have more time in their day to care for a new pet.

In response to the report, Mars Petcare Australia has released its vision of Australia’s ‘future workplace’ – a space designed to complement the needs of both people and pets. 

The renders have been created to help encourage Australian businesses to transition towards pet-friendly workplaces. Innovations include:

✔️ “Not Pet” carpet – a textile innovation that uses a grate look fabric that is a deterrent to dogs;

✔️ Calming plants – plants like Bergamot have been included throughout to help balance emotions by soothing panic and snappiness; and

✔️ LED lights – under desk LED lighting technology has been implemented to help disinfect any bad smells.

Mars Petcare Australia has also teamed up with leader in technology, design and enterprise, RMIT University, to challenge its students to create their interpretation of the nation's future workplace.

Dene Cici, Executive Director at RMIT University said: “We’re incredibly excited to have Mars Petcare support our students with real-world work industry experience opportunities.

“Our students are the nation’s workforce of the future – and the challenge we are tasking them with is sure to draw huge participation across the different faculties. We can’t wait to unveil RMIT’s take on how our future pet-friendly office designs might look.”

Students who enter will have the opportunity to win up to $1,500 to make their workspace and office innovation a reality.

Veterinarian Dr Chris Brown and Mars Petcare Australia Ambassador said: “I genuinely believe that we need to do what we can to make a better world for pets. I have been working closely with the Mars Petcare team for several years to ensure that Australia’s homes, parks and cities are inclusive and most importantly welcoming for our furry family.

The natural next step on our journey is to transform Aussie workplaces. Using creative solutions, like calming plants, no pet-carpet work zones – for those that require some dog-free time - and dog amenities like water bowls and sleeping pods, we believe that all offices can be a place, not just for employees, but their pets too.”

When asked if they classify ‘pet friendly’ as simply being able to bring a dog into the workplace – 60% said yes. However, 40% of those polled claimed this wasn’t enough – calling on businesses to reconsider their workplace designs.

The most-wanted design features included:

✔️ Greater outdoor access (34%);

✔️ Pet-friendly floor plans to allow for free (and restricted!) movement (28%);

✔️ Doggy day care (20%);

✔️ Dog-specific designed furniture (11%); and

✔️ Free food and nibbles for furry friends (7%).

On a national level,8 in 10 respondents support pet-friendly workplaces as long as they contain a pet-free zone. Gen Z were the cohort who rallied behind pet-friendly policies – 95% support dogs in the office. Millennials followed at 88%. On a geographical breakdown, Victorians took the top spot for supporting pet-friendly spaces (92%).

Other findings from the report included the benefits of pets in the workplace. The majority of respondents claimed pets in the office make them feel happier overall (54%), less stressed (15%) – and more social (7%) with pets giving them a reason to talk to colleagues.

To learn more about Mars Petcare Australia and its dedication to create A Better World for Pets™, visit

To learn more about RMIT University, visit
Follow Dr Chris Brown on Instagram and Facebook.

*Pet ownership rates are higher in Australia than many other countries around the world: 90% of Australian households have had a pet at some time; 61% of Australian households have a pet today compared with 57% of US households and 40% of UK households (Animal Medicines Australia Pets in Australia).

About the renders:

Nopet carpet – Nopet carpet is a textile innovation that uses a grate look fabric that is a deterrent to dogs. Use of Nopet carpet within open plan offices provides a simple solution for creating pet ‘no go’ zones.

LED lighting – under desk LED lighting technology has been implemented to help disinfect any bad smells.

Co-working space – this space is designed to allow dog-friendly and dog-free workpods between colleagues. Use of Nopet carpet directs dogs straight into their dog-friendly cubicle. Clear gates allow dogs to see their owners and feel safe and secure.

● Reception (lead image)– Resting locations built into the desks give dogs an area to sit or lie down. Use of Nopet carpet allows visitors and staff to select a seat in a pet-friendly or pet-free space, making the experience comfortable for them. Plenty of plants ensure dogs feel calm in the office environment. Leashes can be put away for the day as people and pets enter the workplace.

Dog slide – dogs will have fun sliding down – or, running back up this office innovation. The downwards slide or upwards ramp prevents dogs from using the stairs, which smaller puppies, older dogs and particular breeds with longer spines can have trouble with. Resting locations make great use of the wall space under the slide.

Kitchen – clear walls allow dogs to see their owners and feel calm. Their kitchen space contains self-dispensing dog treat canisters.

Meeting room – clear walls allow pets to see their owners and feel comfortable in the space. Beds outside the room give dogs a place to sit, or play. The fenced area is designed to contain the dogs in a space nearby their owners meeting, while still giving them area to roam freely.

About the Research Audience:

● 1,013 respondents – 49% male and 51% female

● Proportionate age and geographical split

○ Age – 30% Millennials, 27% Gen X, 26% Boomers, 11% Gen Z and 6% Silent Generation

○ Location – 32% NSW, 25% VIC, 21% QLD, 10% WA, 8% SA, 2% TAS, 2% ACT and <0 NT – in total, 64% respondents from metropolitan cities, and 36% from regional locations

● All respondents work indoors/in an office environment

● All adults over the age of 18 years

● A total of 21 questions were asked including qualifying demographic questions and content-based questions

● Research conducted by Pure Profile in March 2021

Additional findings

Australian employees claim the key benefits of pets in the workplace include:

○ Better work-life balance – with employees taking more walks, more frequently (27%)

○ Better relationships with colleagues (15%)

○ Better productivity as employees aren’t worried about their pet’s welfare/being home alone (15%)

○ Better focus on work by having pets around them (13%)

Detail on Australian pet ownership overall includes:

○ Three-quarters (74%) confirmed they were pet parents currently; of them:

■ 54% own a dog

■ 25% own a cat

■ 11% own a dog and cat

■ 10% own multiple pets

○ The most common ways Australians became pet parents were via:

■ A breeder (40%)

■ Adoption from a shelter (30%)

■ Being gifted a pet from a loved one (15%)

■ A pet store (14%)

○ In terms of 2020, one-quarter of Aussies became a new pet owner during the year, of which:

■ In particular, twice as many males (36%) than females (17%) became new pet parents

■ Gen X were the most enthusiastic, representing one-in-three of all new pet owners

Australian pet ownership in 2020:

○ The majority of Australians (52%) said restrictions gave them more time in their day to care for a pet

○ A further 20% of the nation said they became a pet parent because they ‘just felt 2020 was the right time’

○ A further 20% said they wanted a companion to combat loneliness (10%) or ease stress and anxiety (10%)

Australian employers and pets in the office

○ One-in-five employers allowed pets in the office

○ 50% of all employees said pet-friendly policies directly impacted their decision in taking a new job

○ 70% of the Gen Z cohort claimed pet-friendly offices are a priority in their decision making

MEDIA RELEASE, 22nd April 2021

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