It’s almost Take Your Dog to Work Day (June 24th, if you didn’t already know), but why can’t every day be Bring Your Pet to Work Day? Some companies already allow pets in the workplace as one of their cornerstone office perks, and see that the benefits go far beyond simply having a furry friend to play with in the office.
Reduces Employee Stress Levels
Forget to fill up Roxy’s water bowl before you left the house? Have to feed Fido early tonight? Bringing your pet to work alleviates all of these worries. So from your boss’ point of view, you can stick around to finish up one last project before you leave instead of rushing home to walk your dog. A 2012 study showed that those who brought their dogs to work experienced reduced stress levels and higher job satisfaction. Employees who left their pets at home had a 70% increase in stress, versus an 11% drop in stress levels in people who brought their pets to work. Other studies have shown that being around pets can elevate serotonin and dopamine levels, which calm and relax, and people that interact with pets have even been shown to have lower depression rates. I mean, how can anyone not feel instantly better when there’s a cute Pomeranian with big watery eyes begging for a treat?
Reminds Staff to Take Breaks Throughout the Day
The average American sits for around 13 hours a day — including at work, on commutes, and during meals. With all that sitting, it makes sense that short breaks actually improve focus and productivity. Natural pauses in workflow boost the atmosphere and stimulate creativity. Dogs are the perfect reminder for us to get up and take a break throughout the workday. They might need a walk, but so do you!
Strengthens Relationships Among Teammates
This may come as a surprise, but studies show that having pets in the workplace actually helps build trust among coworkers. They’re easy conversation starters, especially when people stop by your desk to give your dog a tummy rub. What starts off as a simple question about your dog’s name will soon turn into planning doggie play dates (but really). Tony Starr, an employee at Atlassian, says in an article, “If I don’t have a reason for talking to someone, having Wilbur here opens up the communications. It really does foster a better atmosphere in the office.”
Improves Physical and Mental Well-being
Pet owners have been shown to have improved cardiovascular health
, autonomic stress responses, and blood pressure. There’s a reason why dogs are man’s best friend. They are a source of unconditional love and affection, especially during stressful and tough times. So the positive, stress-reducing effects of having some four-legged friends in the office is bound to rub off on your coworkers. That plus pets provide extra opportunities for staff to exercise and walk around the workplace, which translates into more active and healthier employees (if you have a dog, make sure to share the love and bring your colleagues on your walks!). And if all of that doesn’t convince you, there’s always that old proverb — every smile makes you a day younger. Okay, so that might not be true in a literal sense, but it’ll lift your mood to see cute puppies for sure.
It’s not just pet-focused companies like Purina that are embracing a pet-friendly workplace — so are innovative employers like Google and Zynga (where “every day is bring your dog to work day”). But keep in mind that these companies are implementing these policies with care and caution — as you should as well. Make sure everybody’s comfortable with having pets at work, especially if there are individuals with pet allergies, or any sort of trauma or fear of dogs.
And most importantly, if your company is supportive of having pets at work, be sure to establish some ground rules about the pets that employees can bring to the office. It’s probably a good idea to only allow house trained, friendly, and quiet pets at work. It might seem like common sense, but better safe than sorry, right? So don’t forget to clearly set expectations upfront before things get out of hand. Some companies are even pet-biased (yes, that’s a thing), and only allow dogs. It sort of makes sense — dogs and cats have been frenemies for centuries. In any case, tell your employer that your four-legged friends might just be the secret to stress-free employees and soon you’ll be showcasing your workplace pets on your company website like Ibex does.