Today is Bring Your Dog to Work Day!
While the benefits of the day might seem obvious to pet lovers, some of you might be a little befuddled. What are the benefits of bringing a dog to work?
Bringing your dog to work
Across the UK, all sorts of businesses allow pets in the workplace. You’ve probably met the office dog at a local estate agent or a quirky PR firm. But did you know that larger companies including Google, Zynga, and Nestlé also let people bring dogs into the office? As the owner of pet food brand, Purina, Nestlé actively encourages it as something that nicely supports its corporate identity.
Apart from the fact that they’re our best friends, why would we want to bring dogs to work?
The Benefits of Bringing Your Dog to Work
According to researchers, allowing dogs in the workplace can be beneficial for everyone involved. They reduce stress levels and increase team cohesion, leading to a happier and more productive workplace.
Dogs can be a great conversation starter and create positive relationships across a business. As anthropologist Kate Fox pointed out in her book Watching the English, we often need an excuse to start social interactions or express our emotions. Pets provide that excuse. People who bring their dogs to work often find that other employees stop to pet the dog and talk to them, creating new connections that make for a happier and more smoothly running workplace.
Bringing your dog to work is a fun perk for dog owners. It can save costs on pet care and make their working days more relaxed. It also benefits the pooch and other employees. People who don’t have dogs will sometimes ask to take their colleagues’ pets for walks. This means that people who can’t have pets experience some of the joy they bring, and that the dogs themselves get more exercise. As if all that positivity wasn’t enough, it’s a perk that can attract top staff if that talent has a pet.
As the Nestlé example illustrates, dogs in the office can enhance a company’s image. They present a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. That can help any company attract customers, not just one that’s focused on pet-related products.
They create a friendly atmosphere, attract new talent, promote work-life balance – what is not to love?
Of course, there are reasons why not every company allows pets in the workplace. Fear of change is the biggest obstacle to anything unusual, and it’s good to overcome that. But there are also practical considerations.
Some of the challenges are behavioural, both for people and for pets. It’s easy for staff to get distracted by a dog in the office, especially if dogs get each other excited. The balance is key between dogs helping people relax, increasing productivity, and the point when they’re getting in the way.
How a pet behaves is key. If it’s going to damage the furniture or spend the whole time being noisy, it’s not suitable for an office environment.
Then there are the legal issues. You need to make sure that you know where acts of dog fit into your insurance policies. Also consider if pets breach health and safety standards. Also, some of your employees may be allergic to dogs, or have a deep fear of them. These are all considerations to think through when deciding if you should let dogs into your workspace.
Like any workplace issue, you can deal with this through a clear and comprehensive set of policies.
This might include defining the behavioural standards office dogs must meet, assigning areas they can and can’t go (for example not in eating areas), encouraging regular flea and worm treatments, and how to deal with any mess or damage. Giving each individual dog a trial run before letting them visit regularly is important.
That might sound time consuming, but like most policies, once it’s written up the first time, the work is mostly done. Setting a couple of rules is a small price to pay for the benefits office dogs can bring, through reducing stress and bringing colleagues closer together. Put some signs up around your office and on the outside of the building so people know to expect a fluffy friend when they arrive. You could also consider having meeting rooms and break out spaces as dog-free areas.