17 October 2016

BUSINESS - The Benefits of Letting the Office go to the Dogs

More companies are creating dog-friendly offices to improve employee morale and productivity, and it’s a trend that is supported by the research.

(Grant Hindsley, AP)
A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that employee groups that included pets rated their job satisfaction higher across multiple scales.

They also found that stress levels declined over the course of the day for dog owners who had their dogs present, in contrast to the rising stress levels of other employees.

This preliminary research demonstrated significant benefits for the pet owners who were able to bring their dog to work, and smaller but still substantial benefits across the organization.

Follow-up research has been similarly optimistic.

Even the CDC lists significant benefits of owning pets, although they do not speak directly to pets in offices.

The research consistently demonstrates that having dogs in the office can increase the happiness and decrease the stress of employees. And, as study after study has demonstrated, happy employees are more productive, take fewer sick days, score themselves as having higher job satisfaction, and are more creative and engaged.

Other benefits to dogs in the workplace include the mental health benefits for both employees and customers, and the ways that humans bond over companion animals.

These benefits may be unexpected in offices where dogs seem like a distraction and focus feels like a more natural productivity booster, but the benefits are consistently reported in offices that allow dogs.

And everyone from Google to Blizzard to GoDaddy and Autodesk have dog-friendly policies. The list is long, and full of companies performing at the tops of their fields.

However, it’s not an easy task to create a pet-friendly workplace that is also safe, and accessible for employees or customers who may have allergies or phobias.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, as many as three in ten Americans are allergic to dogs, and the rates for cat allergies are even higher (though few offices are opening their doors to cats, with some notable exceptions). Pet-friendly offices also have to manage pet behaviour, and ensure that dogs coming into work are safe with both new people and other dogs.

One approach to creating a dog-friendly workplace that is also welcoming for coworkers with allergies or phobias is to follow the lead of Salesforce, a San Francisco company that allows employees to book a day in the Puppyforce shared office space.

The shared space is set up to be dog-friendly, and includes sound-proofing, rubber flooring, beds for the dogs, as well as water bowls and treats. The company has found that even employees who do not own dogs have benefited, and will drop in on the Puppyforce space to relieve stress with a walk or some cuddle time.

Employees are the foundation of any company, and creating pet-friendly workplaces is one way to keep that foundation solid.

By Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a writer, editor, academic, and animal lover who came late to her appreciation of pets. At 18, a rescue pup named Tasha saved her from a depression and she hasn't looked back. She has worked as the canine behaviour program coordinator for the Calgary Humane Society, and was a dog trainer specializing in working with fearful and reactive dogs for many years. She doesn't have any pets right now, but makes up for it by giving her petsitting clients (and any dogs she comes across on her frequent coffee shop adventures) extra snuggles.

No comments:

Post a Comment