We all know that pets make great friends, but, can they also be great co-workers? The pet-friendly policies in some Australian offices have made it quite common to work alongside an animal, with companies using them to boost morale in stressful times.
Google is one of these companies, their code of conduct even stating “affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture”. Amazon is also a fan of furry friends, with over 2,000 employees registering their pets at their headquarters in Seattle so they can take them in. Offices are stocked with biscuits, water fountains are set at dog height, and there’s an off-leash park where staff can exercise their beloved pets.
Around 8% of US and UL employers will also allow dogs in the office. A 2016 survey by Banfield pet hospital found that 82% of employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to pet-friendly companies, 88% think pets at work improve morale and 86% say they reduce stress.
Laura Wolf, global content manager at Seattle-based creative agency, Possible, brings her chihuahua-dachshund mix, Boomer, into work daily. “You get to know people through your dog, people stop to cuddle her,” Laura told The Guardian. “She’ll sit on my lap during meetings; sleep next to my desk while I’m working; visit colleagues she knows who’ll give her a treat.
“Younger people are getting married way later and choosing to have a pet instead of a child early on. Doggy daycare is just as expensive so it’s great to have that flexibility of being able to take your dog around with you.
It’s beneficial to the company as well. The likelihood of people having to leave to get home to their dog or come in late because they’re walking their dog is much less.”
In perhaps the most famous study on dogs in the workplace, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Centre for Human-Animal Interaction also found that having dogs around the office produced a wide array of benefits for both pet owners and their pet-less colleagues.
“When there were dogs at work, we found people who normally wouldn’t talk to each other did and that all of a sudden, there was a connection and feeling that they were part of the team,” Randolph Barker, a professor of management at VCU School of Business, added. “The dog becomes a social lubricant.
Animals reduce activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is our primary stress response system. Stress can have a wide range of negative impacts on cognition, mode and our personal interactions. Keeping this system in check is critical for keeping us in the best shape to be creative, interactive and productive.”