Over the past two years, Mars has witnessed the changing needs of their associates, the company has listened to their voices and taken their wellbeing into account and redefined the rules and ways of working based on their recent experience. The company has now designed collaborative workspaces and a new working method, called Future of work, focusing on the individual needs of all their associates.
On Friday, 11 February 2022, associates together with their beloved furry friends, were welcomed back at, Mars Africa’s head office in Woodmead, Johannesburg after working remotely for two years.
The occasion was marked by the opening of the headquarters new ‘pet office’ as the company has decided to create a special office space just for dogs to help reduce their separation anxiety as the Covid-19 lockdown period of remote working from home comes to an end.
“We realise that the return to the office may have a negative emotional impact on many dogs who have become dependent on having human interaction during the workday. As a leading global pet food manufacturer, well known for brands such as Pedigree, Whiskas, Royal Canin, Iams and Eukanuba, we are intensely involved in the science of pet nutrition and physical health, however we believe it is just as important to consider their emotional well-being as we all return to the office,” said Tumi Masekela, Corporate Affairs Director at Mars Multisales Southern Africa.
She added, “Enabling our associates to bring their pets into the office is the perfect foundation on which to develop a truly pet-centric culture and encourage pet ownership, not only among ourselves but also more broadly in our wider communities.” According to research by the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, there is accumulating evidence of the benefits of pets offering companionship, relieving stress and even helping to improve attention and memory.
Collaborative workspace for a ‘new normal’
The global company that refers to their employees as associates, has transformed its regional headquarters into a modern hot-desk system with well-designed open spaces that promotes a more collaborative approach for meetings and team building.
Mars has long been exemplary in providing flexible working opportunities for their associates since before the pandemic – flexibility in daily working hours, collaborative workspaces and pet-friendly offices are just some examples to support this idea. The company has now introduced a flexible, hybrid approach called the Future of Work, which is based on only a portion the working time being spent in the office. The new work system, which is based on the feedback provided by associates worldwide, will allow Mars associates to carry out their duties in an environment that best suits their activity.
More sustainable meeting methods
Another important area of the Future of Work strategy focuses on a changed approach to meeting and travel. To reduce the number and time spent at meetings, as well as to keep the health and safety of associates in focus, Mars associates are only required to travel and organise a meeting for specific purposes and are supported by several online tools to do so.
The introduction of this new work model will also reduce business trips around the world, by at least half compared to the pre-pandemic level. Remote work also benefits the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of associates travelling daily to offices. All this to increase work efficiency in balance with health and well-being and the implementation of Mars’ sustainability plan.
Pandemic highlights importance of our connection to pets
The pandemic has transformed both the pet care industry and pet ownership. It has placed the spotlight on vulnerabilities in the systems that care for pets and make pet ownership accessible, sustainable, and enjoyable.
With more Mars associates becoming pet parents as well, the company wants to continue creating a ‘Better world for pets’ with pet-friendly offices always being the core of Mars workplaces, but the new ways of working offer possibilities for those as well, who would like to spend more time at home with their pets.
Masekela commented; “Science tells us that pet ownership brings a multitude of benefits to our health and well-being: from improving our heart health and physical activity to building empathy and strengthening our sense of community. The pandemic has highlighted the role of pets in our lives, having them become an extension of our families. We would like to encourage all citizens and companies to help build a better world for our pets in the post-covid society.”
Research measures the number of homeless pets in South Africa
The new ‘pet office’ is the first of a few animal welfare developments that Mars Africa are focusing on in 2022, including a new “State of Pet Homelessness Index” that the company is scheduled to launch as a first in South Africa later in the year.
The harsh reality is that millions of cats and dogs around the world live on the streets or in shelters, without the care and nutrition they need to thrive. Mars Global teamed up with animal welfare experts and created the first-ever State of Pet Homelessness Index. The initiative from part of the company’s sustainability plan focused on building a sustainable future for everyone and better world for pets.
“We have partnered with eight animal welfare experts from leading organisations around the globe to guide the development of this brand-new index. We have built the index, gathering data from across more than 200 data sources supplemented with quantitative data on consumer attitudes, ensuring a holistic view on pet homelessness and covering three key focus areas influencing the issue of pet homelessness. The index is the first, methodological measure of pet homelessness, currently covering data across 9 countries including South Africa,” commented Masekela.
She concludes that the local findings from the index would be shared in the coming weeks. “We look forward to sharing the findings which we believe will go a long way to informing how we care for homeless pets in South Africa and support the animal welfare organisations that work so hard to provide food, shelter medical care, and most importantly, forever homes for our loneliest furry friends.”