Being able to take a dog or a cat to work is a workplace benefit that’s offered by a number of companies. But what’s it like to work in the middle of an “office jungle” where a parrot is screeching at you instead of your boss, and a thorned lizard is watching you from the ceiling?
Animals are winning themselves a place in modern office environments, according to a study published in Scientific American as a part of its Workplace Anthropology series. The main benefits? These (sometimes) four-legged fauna friends reduce stress, making offices feel friendlier – and the animals also provide fun and relaxation.
For example at the Seattle headquarters of Amazon, not only are dogs welcome, but if you come there as a visitor, you can pick up dog biscuits at the reception for the barking “employees.” And every October, this world e-commerce leader also organizes a contest for the scariest dog costume.
But what’s it like to work in an office where something more exotic than a poodle or a Siamese cat is running, flying, or crawling around you?
Bearded Dragon in Love
You might be surprised to see the words “ATTENTION, BEARDED DRAGON!” on the door of one department at Prague’s PR.Konektor public relations agency. For two years, a bearded dragon with the lovely name of Francois has been a part of their team in charge of fast-moving consumer-goods clients.
Although this small female lizard spends most of its time in a terrarium, it sometimes does need to run around a bit to keep in shape. Francois’s favorite teammate is the consultant Jitka. The way to a lizard’s heart is, after all, through its stomach, and so a bearded dragon will always fawn the most over whoever supplies them with crickets and locusts.
Francois isn’t much good for snuggling, because she has thorns all over her shiny body and mighty claws on her feet, but that doesn’t stop her from being a great source of fun as she runs all over the office and up onto its ceiling, or rummages through women’s purses. What’s most fun for her, meanwhile, is her regular chamomile bath, which pleasantly moistens her skin.
The Turbo-snail from IT
The African snail that they have over at Neeco, an IT company in Prague’s Karlín district, is a bath-lover as well. This undemanding gastropod can grow to considerable proportions. One African snail made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for having reached a shell size of 39.3 cm and a mass of 900 g.
Neeco’s snail Šneeco is far smaller, for now. Its human colleagues mainly appreciate it for being easy to take care of, and Neeco’s programmers especially love how it doesn’t talk. But they can’t just leave it in the terrarium all the time; they have to let it slide around the office occasionally, and it’s said to be surprisingly fast.
The (Un)diplomatic Parrot
For many years, a parrot provided company to the staff of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was born in Africa, and it arrived at the Ministry’s Prague headquarters in the 1970s along with a Czech diplomat who had packed it along when returning from a mission on the dark continent. The parrot received the lovely Czech name Pepík, as well as an office shared with the employees of Ministry’s “RADAR” division, which provided telegraph connections with embassies worldwide.
Pepík soon showed himself to be not only capable of imitating the clacking of the telegraphs, but also an exceptionally skilled imitator of human speech. He quickly learned excellent Czech and offered pungent commentary on both events around him and, in time, events throughout the Ministry.
Unfortunately he had little restraint and lots of unwanted advice for those around him. One of the cleaners even refused to work around him, because he had undiplomatic assessments of both her figure and her work. Eyewitnesses claim that phrases such as “do it right, you ragbag” were among the milder of his epithets. Pepík is no longer among us, but tales of his Ministry escapades are still told to this day.