This post was contributed by Dr. Mehdi Khalvati, president and CEO of Axxerion USA.
In the business world, success depends on how productive each member of the team is around the workplace. That’s why many businesses are looking for new ways to boost productivity and help their employees perform better without spending wads of cash while doing so. In recent years, a new trend has been emerging; allowing dogs in the workplace.
The idea does seem a bit crazy, but it’s actually backed up by science, and many companies in the US, such as Axxerion, Google, Amazon, Bissel, and Zynga, allow dogs in the workplace for different reasons. Some do it for productivity sake and to make their employees happier, while others allow workers to bring their dogs as part of awareness campaigns to support animal rescue and shelter dog adoption.
If you have been thinking of following suit and joining the league of dog-at-work supporters, here’s a roundup of why allowing dogs in the workplace is a great idea.
1. Dogs Can Reduce Stress Levels
According to The American Institute of Stress, around 80% of the working folks feel stress in the workplace, and half of them need help in managing their condition.
Not only does stress interfere with one’s productivity and task performance, but it can also lead to more severe consequences, including physical health issues.
Stress in the workplace can originate from different reasons, including the fear of getting fired, working overtime, trying too hard to meet certain expectations, etc. No matter the reason, stress is never a good thing. Not for the employee, and definitely not for the employer.
In the scientific world, there is a term known as “social support”, which refers to the positive effect that relationships with other people have on one’s mood when it comes to stress reduction.
Research has shown that people are not the only source of social support, as pets can play the same role as well. Why wouldn’t they do, considering that they spread positive vibes and help employees feel more relaxed? In other words, the very presence of one’s dog in the workplace can effectively buffer stress and boost productivity for both the pet owner and the other employees.
Furthermore, social support is imperative for special cases. According to a study published in 2017, social support can play a huge role in determining whether someone with mental illness would go back to work or remain unemployed. Given the fact that people with mental illnesses may find it hard to interact with co-workers, especially in the beginning, allowing dogs in the workplace can help them feel more comfortable and blend in faster.
By following a dog-at-work policy, not only will you be able to attract more employees and reduce the stress level in the office, but you’ll also be helping people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to join a workplace in the first place.
2. Dog Owners Tend to Be Healthier
Not only does allowing dogs in the workplace reduce stress among employees, but pet ownership, in general, provides a plethora of health benefits. For starters, dog owners are less prone to increased cholesterol levels and heart problems, and they’re known to have fewer visits to the doctor.
A recent study conducted by The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) showed that pet ownership helps save $11.7 billion every year for 132.8 million pet owners. Among the participants, 20 million owners who walk their pets five times per week save $419 million in healthcare as they are less likely to suffer from obesity and other health issues.
What does that mean for you, the employer?
It means that if you encourage employees to own dogs and bring them to the office, you’re likely to witness a decrease in sick day calls and a healthier office all year round.
3. Allowing Dogs in the Workplace Encourages Social Interactions
Interactions and relationships between employees are crucial for a healthy, harmonic workplace, and dogs can play a significant role in that as well. Nothing can fire up a conversation between people faster than a dog. According to several studies, dogs can open more opportunities for co-workers to interact in positive settings, and they may create a synergy that wouldn’t have otherwise existed between employees.
Pets, in general, make people more relaxed, comfortable, and happy, and dogs have the biggest effect as they are the friendliest among domestic animals. That is why they are the furry workplace companion of choice. Knowing that, it’s easy to see how allowing dogs in the workplace can establish strong relationships between employees and result in a stronger, more-connected business.
4. Dogs in the Workplace Benefit Work-Life Balance
Spending too much time working on a project or tackling a particular problem can be overwhelming and lead to severe consequences, such as work burnout, stress, and lack of productivity. Those consequences are not beneficial for neither the employer nor the employee.
Dogs can help with that issue as they remind their owners to take small breaks from time to time, which can significantly reduce stress and enhance their mood. Short playtime, small walks, and temporary distractions caused by dogs give employees mental breaks that will help them get back to work feeling more energized. That’s why Etsy, the giant vintage e-commerce website, allows dogs in the workplace as a way to spread positivity and help employees relax and have fun while they are working.
5. Dogs Boost Customers’ Perception of the Business
The majority of customers and clients have a positive reaction when offered a chance to interact with an employee’s dog, or any pet for that matter. Such an interaction can help them relax, familiarize with the office, and enjoy their visit to the business. Not to mention that allowing dogs in the workplace sends positive vibes and reflects a perfect image of your business, as it shows how forward-thinking and loving it is.
6. Financial Benefits of Allowing Dogs in the Workplace
Allowing dog owners to bring their pets to the office yields an important financial benefit, as it eliminates the need for dog sitters, walkers, and kennels, all of which are services that can be pretty costly for employees who spend a lot of hours at work every day.
Additionally, dog owners tend to work for longer hours with fewer absences as they don’t have to worry about their lonely pet back home, nor do they need to rush in the middle of the day to feed their hungry dog, which can be hugely beneficial for you, as the business owner/employer, from a financial and logistical point of view.
7. Dogs Can Attract Top Talent
Workplace perks play a significant role in attracting top-performing recruits. Dog parents would surely prefer a pet-friendly office over one with strict dog policies. As a business owner, you don’t want to miss on top talent from any community, including the dog-loving one.
According to a survey run by Purina Petcare in the UK, 46% of the participants say that they would consider switching their jobs for a pet-friendly workplace.
Another study run by the same manufacturer among 1,004 US general population respondents currently employed found that 65% of workers at pet-friendly offices and workplaces say that it is essential for them that a potential employer allows pets, especially dogs, in the office.
A Wellness Natural Pet Food survey conducted by ORC International found that 37% of pet owners are willing to sacrifice vacation time and even take a pay cut to be able to take their dogs to work.
All that to show that allowing dogs in the workplace is a valuable perk that would undoubtedly attract more hardworking employees to your business.
8. Dog-At-Work Policies Attract Millennials
Millennials are the future’s workforce. Knowing that they tend to start families later in their life and settle with dogs during their youth, allowing dogs in the office will attract more young employees and get your business the energy boost it needs.
9. Dogs Boost Productivity
As a result of feeling less stressed and more satisfied at work when there is a dog around, employees can perform better and be more productive.
Dogs make the workplace seem like a second home for pet owners, which is why they tend to work harder, faster, and better. Besides, they don’t have to worry about the costs dog-caring services, nor do they have to take breaks throughout the day to feed their hungry dog. In other words, all of the aforementioned dog-at-work perks contribute to the productivity of both pet owners and their peers and co-workers.
Not only do employees become more productive though, as when they feel more relaxed and comfortable, but they also become more creative, and we all know that creativity is the fuel of innovation and advancement.
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook
It’s Also Beneficial for Dogs
Having a dogs-at-work policy can have a tremendous positive impact on the dogs themselves. Dogs that are used to be around their owners for extended periods of times and during their social interactions tend to be better socialized and easier to be around compared to dogs that are often left alone during the day.
The more social interactions the owner has while their dog is around, the more well-rounded and better conditioned the pet gets. That means that allowing dogs in the workplace is a win-win-win situation for everyone, including the business owner, employees, and dogs. If managed properly, that is, of course.
Is It Always a Good Idea?
Although it may seem intriguing and highly beneficial, some businesses prefer not to allow dogs at work. That’s because having dogs around in the workplace does come with a few drawbacks, mainly:
- Dogs, and pets in general, can be a distraction as they need small walking breaks and make quite a bit of noise sometimes.
- Other employees may feel discomfort because of allergies or barking.
- You may have to deal with some accidents caused by the dogs.
How to Transition Seamlessly into a Dog-Friendly Office
Due to the tremendous positive impact that they have, allowing dogs in the workplace can be highly beneficial for your business. Here are a few tips that you can follow when applying a dogs-at-work policy:
- Establish a no-barking system, such as having a dog silencer.
- Small, outdoor breaks must be mandatory.
- All the dogs’ vaccinations must be up to date.
- Dogs must be clean, healthy, and house-broken.
- Dogs must be trained to be allowed in the office.
- Create dog-free zones for employees with allergies and such.
- Dogs cannot be accountable for their actions, which is why you need to set a pet policy that outlines liability issues. Once in place, have every employee acknowledge the system before bringing their dog to the office.
- Consult a legal counsel to determine how to tackle any liability issues.
- Make sure to talk to your insurance agency to see if there are any adjustments that need to be made.
The list goes on and on, of course, but those are the main points that you need to implement if you decide to allow dogs in the office.
Allowing employees to bring their dogs to the office can yield excellent results for the employer, the employees, and the pets themselves.
To reap the rewards of such an act, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of allowing pets in the office before taking any kind of action.
Once you make up your mind, start slowly, establish ground rules, and craft a comprehensive dog policy for a seamless transition and experience.
About the Author
Mehdi Khalvati, Ph.D. is the president of Axxerion Inc. Dr. Khalvati has more than twenty years of systems and software solution development experience. Moreover, has created several leading solutions in the Facilities Management, Design, and Construction marketplace. Dr. Khalvati holds degrees in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering and Computer Sciences with a Doctorate from UC Berkeley.