A little while ago I posted an article on the subject of dogs in the workplace complete with my very own dog Hugo. It has sparked a few questions and a lot of people have given us some really positive feedback on how much they enjoyed my blog and their own experiences of having a pooch about the place during the working day.
This got me thinking about the whole subject a little more, and the more I researched, the more I realised that the argument for having dogs (and indeed sometimes other pets) in the workplace is really rather strong.
As with a lot of research, you do need to put it into the context of your own environment before implementing a dogs at work policy. As we mentioned in the previous article, for larger companies it will probably be necessary to have a ‘pet free’ zone for those with allergies or who would simply prefer not to be around a dog. Also, there needs to be suitable entertainment and comfort provision for the furrier members of your team. However, these seem minor inconveniences when put into the perspective of the following potential benefits.
- Stress relief (part 1). For the owner of the dog, the daily departure for work can be quite a trauma. Dogs miss us when we are not around and the owner knows this. Therefore, being at work away from their dog results in elevated stress in many cases. I am sure there is no need to emphasise how bad stress can be for productivity.
- Trust and teamwork. In some research carried out at Central Michigan University, teams that contained a dog showed more trust and bonded better than those without a dog. If this is the case, then a dog in the workplace could actually have a direct impact on productivity.
- Stress relief (part 2). There is quite conclusive evidence from a number of sources that interaction with dogs, and indeed cats, can produce a calming, de-stressing, effect in people. During the working day when things are getting difficult, a few minutes of interaction with the company dog could well set us up for a difficult task.
- Low-cost employee perk. We have so far been focusing on the benefit to the employee, but let’s not forget that we are currently going through a period of skills shortage leading to a candidate-led employment market. It could well be that the temptation of a dog-friendly workplace is a low cost and effective boost to your employee benefits.
- Benefits for the dog. Let’s not forget that our canine companions can also see the benefits of being in the workplace. Apart from not going through the trauma of owner separation, they also get to spend time with others and develop a more sociable approach.
Overall there seems to be some very significant benefits to having a dog-friendly environment in an appropriate workplace and these benefits extend to both canine and human team members.
p.s Hugo now has a little sister, Nelly