Pet-friendly work policy is pepping up Charleston start-up

Jessie, a Boomtown office regular, spend a lot of time napping near the sales team.

CHARLESTON (WCBD) – Employers are opening up to pets in the workplace, finding it helps morale and improves the work-life balance.

Brightening-up one Charleston-downtown office, canine colleagues.

The vibe at real-estate start up BoomTown is casual — there are corner rooms with plush couches, and arcade games and dart boards can be found alongside desks, helping keep the building from getting that sterile office-like environment.

“We’re a dog friendly office,” said Liz Luke, the Work Environment Advocate at BoomTown.

It’s not a traditional work space, but it’s not supposed to be ordinary. BoomTown employees want to shape the future of the real-estate industry.

And to help them with that endeavor, the company tries to foster a friendly workplace that includes a bring-your-dog to work policy that was adopted when it was founded in 2006.

“At the end of the day we are still working but having fun. so we don’t get those ‘Sunday scaries’ or have that dread and anxiety of coming into work on a Monday morning,” said Luke.

“We call ourselves boomers,” she explained, accounting for 240 employees and 35 registered dogs that come in at various times with their owners.

Allowing four-legged-friends in the office is a growing trend across the country. About 7 percent of U.S. companies allow pets at work, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

For most of the people working at BoomTown, the casual vibe and pet-friendly policies were part of what drew them to the job and the company is ranked as one of the top 50 high-performing cultures by Entrepreneur Magazine.

“Everyone here is really responsible with their dogs and knows the type of dog that’s a good fit for the office as well,” said Lacey Stallard, a BoomTown employee.

Not only can you bring your dog to the office, there’s also indoor and outdoor spaces for meetings, even cold brew coffee on tap in a fully stocked kitchen.

There’s also a dog park built out back, making walks and breaks easy.

It’s not mandatory to be a dog-lover to work here. Owners take care to be respectful of colleagues who have a fear of dogs or allergies, and office managers closely monitor pets.

Roaming the campus, it’s hard to imagine how employees get work done — with lunchtime yoga, frisbee sessions, the list of office perks goes on and on, and there’s even shade to set up your laptop and take a break from your desk.

“Nobody here is micro managed. If you’re getting your work done during the day and you’re abiding by our core values, then there’s not any need for hard fast rules,” said Luke.

The dogs help break the ice and create a laid back atmosphere.

“We are really productive, the dogs just add to the fun you can take a good puppy break if you hit a wall or what not. It helps to refresh sometimes,” said Esther Lee, a BoomTown employee.

There’s a financial benefit too. Those bringing their dogs in a few times a week are able to save on the cost of professional walkers and pet-sitters.

“It definitely does save me a lot of money being able to bring him to work,” said Lee.

She owns one of the smaller creatures in the office, but said he’s a big personality when he decides to perk up and play.

“He mostly just curls up under my desk at his bed most days and every couple hours I’ll take him for a walk or to play with some dogs,” said Lee. “He knows which people have treats at their desks so he’ll go to certain people.”

She added, it’s fun “having a cute dog” that opens the door for social interactions and it makes it a little easier to make friends.”

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