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Dogs in workplaces

By Joanne Hunt
Friday, November 5, 2021

Taking a Dog to Work.

I have been having a few discussions with staff and employers recently as to whether dogs should be allowed to come to work.

Note the date! We do have an official day - Bring your dog to work’ day on 25 June and this can raise funds for a number of dog charities dedicated to making a difference to the welfare of dogs.

Are you thinking about taking your dog to work? A survey from Banfield Pet Hospital showed that 71% of Gen Zers and 48% of Millennials are planning to request a pet-friendly policy once offices open again and people return to work - and 75% of C-suite Execs say that these requests will be carefully considered.

BENEFITS OF TAKING A DOG TO WORK

As many people have found during the pandemic, having a dog around helped them cope emotionally, their relationship with their dog improved, and they felt their dog had become closer to their family during this time. So why not capitalise on this?

A number of reports and surveys have indicated the benefits of taking a dog to work.

  1. Banfield’s survey revealed that, of those employers who already had a ‘Take your Dog to Work’ policy in place:
  2. Emerald Insight’s ‘Preliminary investigation of employee's dog presence on stress and organisational perceptions’ found that people who took their dogs to work were less stressed as the day progressed, than those that didn’t.
  3. In the UK a Blue Cross study found that less than 90% of businesses that allowed dogs at work had seen a positive change in the working environment. 50% had seen a decrease in absenteeism and 67% said it improved staff morale (dogs have a way of bringing people together!)
  4. Another study from Frontiers in Veterinary Science found that of 749 people who took their dog to work frequently reported higher than average work engagement, had higher scores on general wellbeing, home-work interface, job career satisfaction and overall work quality of life compared to those that never brought their dog to work.
    - 67% saw increased socialising between employees when pets were around
    - 61% said employees were more willing to come to work
    - 42% saw increased productivity among staff
    - 41% said employees were more willing to stay at work later
    - 31% saw increased retention
    - And 24% said employees seemed happier in the office/workplace

 Although your primary role when at work is to get the job done, having a dog with you at work has many health benefits too (both physical and mental) for you and your dog.

  • You will take more screen breaks, even without thinking, alleviating eye strain.
  • You will take your dog out for a walk in the fresh air, meaning you get exercise during the working day.
  • It breaks down barriers - who can resist stroking a dog as they pass by your desk?
  • Stroking a dog also has a calming effect on both you and your pooch, alleviating stress.
  • Your dog will benefit too! Some dogs struggle with being left at home, particularly if they have had your companionship during the pandemic, so they may benefit from a day in the office.

Dogs in the workplace

SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER!

  1. Check that your dog will be welcome in the workplace as not all offices are good doggie environments.  Also, some of your work colleagues may have allergies that might be sparked off by a dog being in close proximity.
  2. Check with your co-workers that they have no objection to sharing their office with a dog; some people may have a fear of all canines, no matter how friendly they are.
  3. If you have other colleagues that bring their pooches to work, it’s a good idea to check that both dogs are friendly and will get along first - introducing them in a neutral environment before bringing them to the office.
  4. Is your dog healthy and housetrained? Toilet accidents will probably not be very welcome in the office!
  5. Is the office pet friendly? Be aware of items that your dog might find interesting, but could well be dangerous - for example, power cables, rubbish bins, people’s bags with personal belongings. If your pooch is going to be able to roam freely around the office, your co-workers need to be aware too so that they can zip up their bags and ensure their lunch doesn’t get swiped by your pooch!
  6. Most business insurance policies will not cover dogs on their policy so you may have to consider taking out a third party insurance that will cover the dog in case of any accidents. Check with your pet insurance company.
  7. Make sure your dog is sociable and doesn’t mind meeting new people. There is no doubt that they will get a lot of attention!
  8. Prepare for your commute. Do they like travelling in a car- you don’t want them to be travel sick when you arrive.
  9. Follow these doggie wellbeing to keep your pal comfortable throughout the day:  
    - Give them a good walk before you go to work so they will be tired and relaxed.
    - Make sure they have their water bowl handy.
    - Take their favourite blanket or bed with you, so they have a familiar place to relax in.
    - Keep them busy with their favourite toys, a puzzle feeder or a chew and have treats with you so that you can reward them when they are good. 
    - Factor in regular breaks into your working schedule, for a short walk and comfort breaks with your dog. 
    - Be prepared in case of an accident (e.g. disinfectant spray, wipes, kitchen towel, poo bags)
    - Will there be other dogs in the office too? Make sure they get on - you want to avoid any conflict! 
    - Will there be other dogs in the office too? Make sure they get on - you want to avoid any conflict!
  10. Keep your dog under control at all times. Let people approach your dog, rather than the other way round as not everyone will be comfortable with dogs.
  11. Keep an eye out for signs that they are uncomfortable; panting excessively, licking their lips or yawning, or if they are trembling or cowering are all signs of anxiety.
  12. Make sure your dog is obedient and will obey simple cues, like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’.  You need to be in control at all times so that the office is not disrupted.
  13. Make sure your dog is adaptable and not overly protective of you if someone else approaches. If this is the case, you may want to reconsider taking them to work.
  14. Is there someone who would be willing to keep an eye on your dog if you are called into a meeting, or you need to visit the loo?
  15. If you are considering taking your dog to work on a regular basis, have a trial run to see how your dog gets on.

Dog lovers know that giving your pet a cuddle and a stroke, in fact even just having them around, can help the stress of daily life just melt away. But how can you convince your boss that bringing your four-legged friend to work with you is an excellent idea and won’t just distract your colleagues?

Benefits of dogs in the workplace

Reducing stress

Blue Cross encourages employees to bring well-behaved dogs to work wherever possible. 
Having a pet in the workplace really can help to reduce stress levels and heart rates – even stroking a dog can lower blood pressure.
At Blue Cross we encourage our employees to bring their well-behaved dogs into work where it’s practical and we’ve seen a more enjoyable working environment.
Blue Cross Education Manager Kerry Taylor brings her dog Diddy into work with her. She says: “It’s so hard to tear yourself away from the computer sometimes but I have to take Diddy for a walk at lunch time, which means I get to have a break and relax, and I feel much more productive in the afternoon.
“My colleagues also love it because when they’re feeling stressed or upset they can come over and give him a cuddle and it makes them feel better.”

Happier dogs

Dogs are usually much happier if they can come with you to work too because they’re not being left at home for long periods of time.
Dogs are social pets and can struggle to cope when they’re left at home all day, and this is reflected in their behaviour, like barking, chewing furniture and anxiety.

When it doesn’t work    

Taking a dog to work won’t be suitable for every workplace, particularly those with strict health and safety requirements like restaurants and factories. You also have to bear in mind that some of your colleagues could be allergic to dogs. 

Think about whether your working environment will suit your dog too, and whether they’ll genuinely enjoy the experience or if they’d be better off at home.

Keep an eye out for any signs of stress, like:

  • panting
  • licking lips

Make sure they have a quiet place to relax at all times.

The evidence

It could be easier than you think thanks to surveys which show that having a dog at work can reduce stress and boost performance and job satisfaction.

Researchers in the US looked at 75 staff over a week, comparing:

  • stress levels
  • job satisfaction
  • feelings about support from, and commitment to, the company

Their findings showed that people who took their dogs to work were less stressed as the day went on compared to those who didn’t.

It also showed that having dogs around can boost morale and that the employees with access to dogs had higher job satisfaction than industry norms. Their work, which has been published in the International Journal of Workplace Health, complements a survey that Blue Cross commissioned a few years back.

More than 90 per cent of businesses we asked that allowed dogs at work said they’d seen a positive change in the working environment. One in two businesses noticed a decrease in absenteeism, 56 per cent said their dog had improved work relations, and 67 per cent said it improved staff morale.

Not only are dogs great ice-breakers with clients, they also create a feel-good factor among staff.

 

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