It’s been a long day. You got a morning gym session in, worked all day, and then grabbed an outdoor dinner with friends at a local spot. When you finally get home, you’re greeted by Kevin.
Kevin is your best friend. He’s always willing to lend an ear when you need to de-stress and is always excited to see you. He’s never judgmental and the only thing he loves more than you is food.
Kevin is your dog. He makes you so happy and your mood is instantly lifted when you see him.
You hate leaving him during the day. If only you could bring him with you to work.
Well, maybe you can.
Dogs In The Workplace
According to Time magazine, the number of workplaces allowing dogs has increased from 5% to 8% since the year 2013. Companies like Google and Ben & Jerry’s have dog-friendly policies, and Amazon employees have been bringing their canine companions to the workplace for about 20 years.
So besides the obvious reason of wanting our furry best friends (those that aren’t service-related) with us all day, why are more and more companies incorporating dog-friendly policies?
In 2012, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University found that, of their employee study groups, the group who brought their dogs to work stayed significantly less stressed than those who left their dogs at home. In addition to this, another study conducted measured saliva samples and found employees who brought their dogs to work had lower stress-hormone levels than those who didn’t.
Having dogs in the office can even help relieve the financial stress from additional costs of doggie daycare or dog walking services. This is important for employees who can’t get home soon—or often—enough and rely on these services.
From an outsider’s perspective, having pets in the office can soften a company’s image and make a business seem more progressive and forward-thinking: a useful tool when soliciting new employees or customers.
It’s well known that being too focused on one specific problem or project inhibits our ability to think creatively and objectively. Stepping away from the task at hand allows us to clear our minds and approach the problem from a different perspective. Though you don’t necessarily need a pet to do this, short walks, a little playtime, or even just talking to your dog may force you to paws for those mental and physical breaks. While these might seem like distractions, taking regular breaks is necessary for people to be productive.
In addition to being a stress reliever and productivity booster, pets can also provide a way to bring employees closer together, particularly in offices where people tend to stick to themselves. They create shared interest and can facilitate both casual and work-related conversations—which is great for improving overall communication.
Here at LifeSci, we’ve already begun integrating our pets into our digital workplaces with the help of Slack. No doubt the presence of our Pets channel has lowered a few cortisol levels, started some conversations, and brought our team closer together while working remotely.
But what about the dogs themselves? Rather than being left home alone, office dogs get socialized, which helps to improve their overall training and temperament. It’s a win-win.
Implementation Considerations and the Future
Of course, for dog-friendly spaces to truly succeed, comprehensive and objective policies regarding basic health and behavior guidelines will need to be created. Potential obstacles like allergies, office pet-proofing, or even cynophobia (fear of dogs) should all be taken into consideration. Employers should specify how often dogs should be in the workplace, how they should be handled, and potential consequences for misbehavior.
Since a lot of the population has been working from home alongside their pets, it’s not hard to imagine that reverting back to a pet-free environment may require a bit of an adjustment. This applies to both humans and canines. Implementation of a dog-friendly protocol in the workplace might just be the solution we all need. Hopefully, I’ve convinced you…
Graphic created by: Autumn Von Plinsky