LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. — The pandemic changed the American workplace almost overnight driving people to work-from-home.

Now, after two years, Rob Martorano is driving back to the office with a new co-worker and companion, Pretzels the Dog. Pretzels is a 7-year-old Australian shepherd — and he has his own ID badge.  

“It’s literally the funniest thing,” Martorano said.  

Martorano is a vice president at Alight Solutions, a Lincolnshire-based company that manages payroll, health benefits, and retirement plans for other large corporations. The company has adopted a hybrid model of remote and in-person work. The company acknowledges the pandemic workforce has different feelings and expectations for office life after two years at home.

Now, the company is piloting a program allowing employees to bring their dogs to the office.  

“The world of work has changed and we need to change with that,” Michael Rogers, Alight’s chief human resources officer said. “One of the things we realized is that people love dogs and during the pandemic, some people got a dog for the first time. Other people spent more time with their dogs. So we wanted to create a workplace where people could bring their dog in and have it with them.” 

According to a recent survey, nearly 90% of U.S. businesses are offering new perks and incentives to their employees hoping they’ll return to office – some are offering happy hours, ice cream trucks or catered meals.

The company has set up dog-friendly workstations with water, toys and a gate to ensure dogs are in a safe place — and don’t become a distraction.  

Martorano said that’s not a problem for Pretzels.

“He pretty much sleeps.,” he said. “Whenever anyone walks by, he’ll stand up and wag his tail. But he pretty much sleeps. Spends most of the day sleeping under my boss’s desk.” 

Pretzels belongs to one of WGN’s Very Own behind the scenes. And we first met Pretzels on an Adopt A Pet segment a few years ago!