Making its new headquarters pet friendly to showcase the company’s purpose was a priority for Mars Petcare North America, said Mark Johnson, regional president.

The office space, located in Franklin, Tennessee, USA, near Nashville, officially opened in June 2019. In the company’s previous headquarters nearby, about 800 employees had been spread between two buildings. The new office unites everyone in one building and allows for further growth – but the pet-friendly aspect is chief among its benefits and importance to Mars.

Dog park, other features symbolize company purpose

“Make the world a better place for pets” is Mars’ purpose. “That’s our ‘why,’ and it’s sourced out of an insight, which was, we recognize pets make our world better,” Johnson said in a previous interview.

Today he sees the new headquarters as not only a strong, tangible symbol of that, but also a way to reward associates and attract new ones. “It’s a great recruiting tool, especially for millennials,” he said.

While the building is leased, its interior and grounds were custom designed by a local architectural firm to Mars’ pet-friendly specifications. A key feature is a dog park, situated in a shady area next to trees and outfitted with tables and chairs, plus wifi, for company associates who want to work while watching their dogs romp. (The entire campus, indoors and out, is wifi enabled.)

Other pet-friendly amenities include:

  • A watering station at every common break area;
  • A colored leash system to identify which dogs are comfortable being petted by anyone, and which ones might be a little shy with strangers;
  • Easy-to-clean surfaces and materials, including polished concrete floors, carpet squares in conference rooms (for easy removal and replacement) and vinyl fabric on seating areas that are large enough to accommodate both owner and dog;
  • A drop-off, indoor doggie playcare, where associates can leave their dogs up to two hours a day to attend meetings or facilitate socialization with other dogs. Each owner completes a form describing the dog’s size, breed, age, health and behaviors so it can be grouped with dogs of similar size and temperament.

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Each common break area for associates also includes a watering station for their dogs. l Courtesy of Mars Petcare

 

To bring their dogs to work, associates must provide proof of current vaccinations and sign a “petiquette” agreement outlining certain behavior requirements. Dogs’ vaccination status is carefully monitored; the manager is alerted if an associate has a dog nearing expiration of its vaccinations.

200-plus dogs on campus

The response to date from associates has been very positive and encouraging, according to Johnson and Katie Evans, external affairs manager for Mars Pet Nutrition US. While it was common to see about 30 to 40 dogs in the former headquarters, the company now has more than 270 registered to come into the office, Evans said, commenting that she meets a new dog almost every day. About 50% of those dogs have also been registered for the doggie daycare, with 90% of them using it at least three times to date.

Meeting new dogs and allowing them to socialize is by design, as the office uses an open space, “hoteling” concept. No one is assigned a specific workspace, though they can claim one if desired and associates within specific functions share a common area. To allow associates to work anywhere, each area has a central unit for storing dog beds, treats and similar pet amenities. Even the cafeteria and learning center welcome pets.

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Using an open-office concept, Mars’ new headquarters provides central units in each area for storing dog beds, treats and similar pet amenities. l Hall + Merrick Photographers, courtesy of Mars Petcare

 

Great for business, too

To date, a huge benefit of the open space and pet friendliness has been a positive energy, connectivity and sense of pride and ownership among associates, aided by their involvement in some elements of the design. For example, they were invited to offer names for the conference rooms and open areas; the former are named after dog and cat breeds of associates’ pets (such as the Bombay cat conference room), while the latter are named after neighborhoods in Nashville where associates live.

Fostering collaboration and connectivity was intentional, Johnson and Evans said, but Johnson added that he’s pleased with the extent that goal has already been achieved. “I genuinely believe this facility is great for pets, great for associates, great for business.”

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The new office is designed to foster collaboration among associates and includes pet-friendly furniture so their dogs can tag along. l Courtesy of Mars Petcare