Did you know that 22 June 2019 saw the fifth iteration of Bring Your Dog to Work Day? Following from that day, Twitter was filled with disappointed employees, sad that their workplaces once again became canine free. But, here at Thrive, we challenge the notion that only one day should be dedicated to pets in the workplace; Baxter is almost part of the furniture!
Here are just a few reasons why, if you can, your workplace should become dog-friendly.
Benefits for Employees
Dogs are not called man’s best friend for nothing; their benefit to wellbeing is significant. Research has found petting dogs reduces stress and lowers blood pressure, and people who own dogs are likely to have fewer doctor’s visits and fewer sick days. In addition, dog owners walk 79% further than non-owners; increasing physical health and giving owners valuable time to reflect and unwind.
Here at Thrive, we’ve found that Baxter brings an extra “energy” into the office and his endless friendly nature makes us all feel a little more positive.
Bringing your dog is also great for them! Being in the office with you and your colleagues gives them the social interaction they crave and is a better environment than being alone at home.
Benefits for Employers
The benefits of bringing a dog to work aren’t just for employees. Studies have shown that the increased wellbeing of employees has a positive effect on productivity and efficiency. If a dog is a source of happiness and positivity in the workplace, productivity should increase accordingly.
Also, having a dog friendly policy has been recognised as a desirable employee perk and enticement for recruitment and, crucially, it’s a perk that can be delivered for free (if you’re already a dog owner)!
Finally, as well as being a desirable policy for employees, clients are also likely to approve. Baxter has proved a valuable addition to our team and we use him regularly in social media posts – he has more followers on his own Instagram than most of our team!
Having a dog in the office can be a great way to distinguish yourself from competitors and potentially increase client retention.
Things to Consider
Although there are lots of advantages to having a canine companion in the office there are some issues to consider first. Protecting.co.uk (a health and safety company) found that very few businesses carried out risk assessments before adopting the policy.
This is worrying – before the implementation of a dog friendly policy, you should first consider how it would affect all staff. For example, are any employees allergic, fearful of dogs or have mental health issues which may be aggravated by close proximity to animals? If so, perhaps a canine colleague isn’t the best proposition…
In addition, if any employees already bring animals to the workplace as support animals, such as guide dogs, you would need to guarantee that the animals wouldn’t be in conflict. Access to service animals is protected in legislation, and in event of a conflict the primary concern would be to ensure the access to the service animal over other people who wished to bring dogs.
Another consideration is: who gets to bring their dogs? Just one employee, or everyone? You might want to avoid your office becoming a doggy-day-care, but also consider how you would distinguish who can or cannot bring their pet dog?
From a health and safety perspective, you should also make sure that you agree to a plan that addresses any disability and safety issues such as possible trip hazards. Having a dog in the office could also reduce the ability to be flexible; in many industries urgent client queries may arise that demand visits or increased hours. It may be that there is a designated person in the office who is happy to mind the dog if you must run for an emergency meeting, but you cannot expect this of someone if it is not within their job description!
Baxter has made our workplace a calmer, happier workplace, but Baxter doesn’t come in every day. His visits to our office are quite sporadic and his wagging tail is usually a nice surprise when we arrive in the office! If you’re considering bringing your dog to the office, you should consider the other employees and whether it would be good for everyone, including the dog themselves.
Written by Alicia Collinson with the assistance of our Summer 2019 Vacation Scheme Students, Olivia Hudson & Verity Mitchel.