February 13, 2019
Take Your Dog to Work? It’s Not a Bad Idea!
More and more, companies around the country are starting to allow employees to bring their dogs with them. The number of U.S. workplaces that have instituted dog-friendly policies jumped from 5% in 2013 to 8% in 2018, and the trend is showing no signs of weakening. Some of the biggest companies in the country are coming around to the pup-friendly office model.
Amazon’s Seattle-based headquarters has over 1,000 dogs that come to work with their owners every day. Ticketmaster not only maintains a pet-friendly office, they offer pet insurance as an employee benefit to help cover major medical expenses. PetSmart, the pet products retailer, not surprisingly allows dogs at their main headquarters. Nestle Purina, one of the largest pet food manufacturers also allows employees to bring their pooches to work.
Glassdoor allows dogs and works around the allergy problem by maintaining a dog-free area in the office where allergy sufferers can work happily and safely. Bissell Homecare, the cleaning-products giant has a designated “Pet Spot” in the office, where employees can bring their dogs for dog treats, water bowls and even doggy ice cream.
The list goes on! And for good reason. There are a number of benefits to allowing dogs in the workplace. We’ll discuss a few of them here and then offer some items to consider if you’re thinking about allowing dogs at your company.
Allowing Dogs in the Office Reduces Stress
According to a 2012 study from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business, groups that allow dogs in the office see a decline in stress levels throughout the day. Interestingly, offices that don’t allow dogs not only see no decrease in stress levels, their employees’ stress levels rise over the course of the day. So, it would seem that having your pooch at your feet as you work not only prevents you from getting stressed it actively relaxes you. And employees that aren’t stressed out are generally better focused and more productive.
Dogs Increase Workplace Satisfaction
A pet is a source of joy for most pet owners. Having to be apart from them throughout the day is a saddening experience. So, when employees are allowed to bring their dogs with them, they bring that joy to the office, and this makes a big difference in how satisfied they are at their jobs. According to a 2016 survey by Banfield Pet Hospital, 53% of employees said that they would be more likely to stay at their jobs if their employers instituted a pet-friendly policy, and 82% of employees said they thought the change would make employees more loyal to the company.
Bringing Dogs to Work Can Be Healthy
Not only does bringing your dog to work decrease stress levels, it can be healthy in other ways. It’s well known that petting an animal can lower blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol. It also positively impacts salivary immunoglobulin levels, an indication of healthy immune function. This interaction with your animal reduces many stress-related hormones, including cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, while boosting serotonin levels.
Healthy employees take fewer sick days, which means allowing dogs in the workplace has the added benefit of getting more productive hours out of employees.
Dogs in the Office Can Promote Creativity
Dogs can’t stay inside all day. They need to get out to exercise and take care of their business. This has the side benefit of guaranteeing occasional work breaks for their owners. In many cases employees don’t take enough breaks. For a lot of workers lunch is the only break they get and many of them spend it working at their desks.
But breaks are key to resetting the mind, to allow it to disengage for a short while. Creativity, it turns out, happens when the mind is allowed to break away. We’re more likely to come up with novel ideas or new ways of approaching a problem when we can distract ourselves and allow our minds to wander.
Dogs Increase Work Hours…Happily
No one wants to stay late, particularly dog owners that need to rush home to let their furry friends out to use the bathroom. But when they can bring their dog to work not only are they freed of that obligation, they’re much happier to stay until their work is done. After all, their best friend is right beside them! Where else do they need to go?
Dogs Increase Employee Socialization and Morale
Dogs are a source of unbridled enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm is contagious. When employees see dogs enjoying themselves in the office it makes them happy. Pets in the office give employees something fun to interact with and to talk about besides work. This lightens the mood in the office and makes people more social. And employees getting out of their little boxes and interacting with their coworkers is a great morale boost.
Things You Need to Consider When Opening Your Office to Dogs
As we’ve seen, instituting a pet-friendly policy can be an excellent move for company productivity, health and morale. But there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering opening your own office to dogs.
Where to Poo?
Before you can allow dogs into your business you need to consider the logistics of their “business”. Is there a good outdoor area near your office where owners can take their dogs to relieve themselves? If your office is downtown in a high-rise, puppy pooping may not be practical. Yes, you could design a spot in the office for them to do their doo, but it needs to be very well insulated from the rest of the office. No one is going to want to smell that. If you can’t resolve this issue, then dogs in your office may not be feasible.
Allergies and Other Employee Concerns
There are plenty of people that suffer from pet allergies. You need to consider whether your office is large enough to be certain these people can work in a dog-friendly office without having an allergy attack every day. Many offices solve this problem by designating pet-free areas, but this only works if the allergy sufferers don’t need to travel into other parts of the office to get their work done.
You also must consider employees who are afraid of dogs. This is more common than you might think. For these people a dog-friendly policy would not have the relaxing effect that it has for other employees. Because of these and other issues, you need to make sure the bulk of employees actually want dogs to join them.
Disruptions and Distractions
It’s nice to think that if we let dogs into our office they’ll simply lounge around all day, happily eating and sleeping and mostly staying out of the way. But that isn’t the case. Particularly when groups of dogs get around each other things can get raucous. This can be disturbing to normal business operations.
Things can get broken. Food may get stolen off desks. Plus, you may frequently find people engaging with their or other people’s dogs instead of working. In general, you have to consider whether the productivity gains allowing dogs can outweigh the productivity disruptions they can cause.
Is a Dog-Friendly Office Right for You?
It very well could be. If you can make the logistics work you could have a happy, satisfied, productive labor force on your hands. But it can also go off the rails. Just be certain that if you’re a business owner considering allowing dogs you fully think through the consequences before making the leap. The last thing you want to do is allow dogs and then renege later on because it isn’t working. That can be a serious punch to morale. We helped McAfee successfully launch their P.A.W. Program by providing, servicing and maintaining dog waste stations on their campus. If you’re ready to adopt a pets-at-work policy, we can help put a strategy in place for pet waste management. What are you waiting for, let’s talk!
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