Sunday, June 23

Startups, inMobi, Zerodha, Woolpr ‘takes care’ employees pets

Becky a three-month old kitten, purrs atop a work desk at InMobi, staring at long boardroom discussions and at the new faces at hiring interviews. Her owner Rebecca D’leema, a top executive at the tech startup, brings Becky to work every day.

Like most of the 700-odd workers at InMobi located in Marathahalli, Rebecca is single. “Long working hours means leaving pets home alone in a lonely environment.Without time, people are giving them up to shelters,” she said.

InMobi allows employees to bring their pets to work as a matter of policy. “In such a scenario, a workplace that allows pets makes life so much easier,” Rebecca said.

So, Becky has company. Walter, the Golden Retriever, owned by another employee who works on the same floor as Rebecca, is Becky’s friend.At least six employees have adopted strays in the premises.

At the other end of the city is social shopping app Wooplr whose 4,000 sqft office in Koramangala is home to two adopted strays: a three week-old kitten Miu-Miu and a two year-old dog Chintu. “Having pets at workplace creates a familial aura,” said Allen Claudius, head of fashion content. “When employees play with them as they roam around, it eases tension, acts like an icebreaker and helps them warm up to other employees better.”

Some other companies have taken pet care to the level of CSR. Nithin Kamath, founder and CEO of on line brokerage startup Zerodha, believes that caring for strays is a part of professional responsibility.

Their 30,000-sqft JP Nagar office has three rescued dogs – Zero, Q and Pi. “As a startup, our work environment is relaxed and their presence only adds to that appeal. They keep our spirits high,” he said.”Initially, dogs feel really uncomfortable having so many people around and tend to bark. But they are smart and quickly recognise the space as home, get used to it and stop disturbing people.”

The place pets have come to occupy in a company’s identity can be gauged through Buttercups, the online lingerie startup, that lists the Irish Setter Lady Maggie as one of the founder members on its website. Production house Curley Street Media’s Labrador named Bono is designated as Chief Cuddling Officer (CCO) of the firm.

Animal welfare worker Rakesh Shukla of Voice of Stray Dogs said that while it is good that new-age offices are adopting strays, it might not always be feasible when the workforce becomes larger. “There are some employees who just cannot get along with animals. But once trained, animals instantly warm up to people. We need more such companies to come forward.”