How do you relax after a few stressful hours of work? Maybe a breath of fresh air or a quick walk? Well, what about a quick cuddle with a fluffy dog?
As of 2018, only 7% of workplaces in the U.S. allowed dogs to join their owners in the office. That’s up 2% from five years ago. Amazon, Google, and Petsmart are some of the biggest companies that have embraced dogs in the workplace. Having a dog in the workplace might seem like the last place you could find them. But pets in the workplace bring benefits for the employees and employers alike, regardless of the field of work. Here are a few reasons why furry friends should be brought into your workplace.
Benefits of Having an Office Dog
- Therapy for Employees
Many furry friends serve as therapy dogs. They’re companions for those who suffer from physical problems, mental challenges, or those who just need a little extra love. For those who struggle to be in a work environment, having a dog to accompany them to the office every day can serve as occupational therapy. According to dog health information, therapy dogs have been used for years to enhance people’s lives positively and impact their social, emotional and cognitive health. Having an office pet therapy dog can help workers with all of the challenges they struggle with and give them some well-needed love and relaxation in a place that can often bring stress.
- Reduce Stress for both Employees and Dogs
Being around dogs has proven to significantly reduce stress levels and anxiety. Having dogs in the workplace can be a great help when employees are feeling stress from large projects or large loads of work. They can even be great during important meetings to help tensions stay low. Employees will be happier to be at work and will be able to stick to their work with more focus when they have a furry friend by their side. In line with dog health information, the attention and love dogs will inevitably get during the day will also relieve stress and anxiety for them.
- Boost Productivity
Initially, having dogs in the workplace may seem like it would cause more of a distraction than a benefit. Research has shown that taking short breaks throughout the workday actually increases employees’ productivity. With dogs in the office, their owners and other employees will be more easily reminded to take those short breaks to care for the animals. So taking a quick break to take a dog out for a walk or a game of fetch will increase office productivity in the long run.
- Improve Communication Between Departments
With dogs in the workplace, employees from different departments may get more opportunities to talk and work together. An employee from one department may stop at the desk of another when they see a cute dog that they’d like to pet or visit with. This could lead to a discussion between both employees about work projects and open up opportunities for collaboration. Dogs will also become a shared interest that employees can connect over. Overall, having dogs in the workplace will open the office up to becoming more united in work and communication.
- Encourages a Healthier Lifestyle
Many people who work a desk job in an office struggle to remain active throughout the day. There are many health concerns connected with sitting for a long period of time, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity. Having dog companions in the workplace would help employees to have a much healthier and active lifestyle. According to dog health information, dogs need about 3-4 walks a day. Rather than sitting at their desk and only taking short breaks, employees would be up and moving around much more to give their dog exercise or to take a bathroom break.
- Attractive Benefit For Potential Employees
Allowing for dogs in the office can be a huge benefit for employers and greatly increase employee retention. Current employees who are dog owners will be able to save money on dog walkers and doggy-daycares. Potential employees will be even more attracted to open positions with the added benefit on the list. If a potential hire is deciding between an offer from a company that allows dogs in the workplace and one that doesn’t, the unique benefit may be what it takes for them to accept the offer from one over the other.
- Good For the Dogs Too
All benefits to humans aside, allowing dogs into the workplace is a huge benefit for them as well. Based on dog health information, many dog owners that work in an office are forced to leave their dog at home or at a daycare where they may not get the attention and room to roam that they need. If dogs are welcomed into a workplace, rather than being cooped up at home or in a doggy daycare, they spend their day getting the love and attention they deserve. It sounds like a win-win situation for everyone.
What it takes to become a Dog-Friendly Office Space
Preparing an office to become dog-friendly takes a bit of work on the employers’ end. You’ll need to make sure you’re up to date on dog health information. You’ll also want to ask important questions such as, “Is there enough space in the office?”, “Are there areas outside that can be used for play and bathroom purposed?”, and “Will our property management allow changes to be made to make the office dog-friendly?”
If all of the answers to those questions are yes, you can move onto the next steps of preparation, the number one being talking with an attorney to set up a contract or rules for having the dogs in the office. This will protect the company in case there are any mishaps or accidents with dogs while they are at the office.
The rules you set will want to include things such as what disqualifies a dog from being able to be in the workplace like biting or aggression towards other dogs or employees. Do some research on dog health information to ensure that you have an updated list of requirements for vaccinations. You’ll want to set requirements for your employees to update their dog’s shots. You may also want to set rules about dogs being on a leash or lead while they are walking through the office building.
Requiring dogs that will join the workplace to pass a dog obedience course beforehand would also be a good way to prepare them for being around other new dogs and people. You may also want to set rules for employees to keep their sick dogs at home to protect the health of other dogs in the office.
While there are many dog lovers in the world, there are some people who prefer not to spend time with them or who have strong dog allergies. It would be important to establish “no-dog” zones for those employees who cannot or chose not to be around the dogs.
It would be beneficial to get a group of employees together to serve as a pet committee. They should be up to date on dog health information and consist of a mix of employees who do and don’t own dogs. With employees running the committee, other employees may feel more comfortable approaching them about concerns or suggestions they have regarding dogs in the office.
Preparing Your Office for Furry Friends
Once an office has decided to become dog-friendly, there are a number of ways to prepare for your furry friends.
- Try a “bring your dog to work” day: Take your dog to work day is typically in June of each year. It may be wise to have a practice run for your office before you officially become a dog-friendly workplace. This will give you a specific day where you can put all of your preparations to the test and see where there may be shortcomings or flaws in your plans or what extra materials you may need. It will also give dog-owner employees a chance to see if their dog really is cut out to join them in the office. Once you’ve had a successful practice run, you can smoothly move into a dog-friendly office by first instituting “dog-friendly” days each week. This gives both your employees and the office dogs a chance to warm up to the new arrangement.
- Have cleaning supplies on hand: Everyone knows that while dogs are friendly and loveable, they can also be a bit messy. Whether it’s from shedding, food and water, or potty accidents, they can leave a mess behind. Having the proper cleaning supplies on hand will prepare your office to remain clean and make prompt cleanup of accidents easier. Do some research on dog health information to make sure the products you purchase are dog-friendly. One necessary item would be a pressure washer for power washing surfaces. Another would be a fouta towel as they are great for saving space, cleaning, and look great as well. You’ll also want to stock poop bags for employees to clean up after their dogs. You may also consider installing special air filters to assist those who suffer from dog allergies. This will ensure that the air is clean for them as well as all other employees.
- Keep Dog Necessities Stocked: In preparation for the new office dogs, you’ll need to invest in supplies and necessities. Do some research beforehand on proper dog health information regarding the type of food and treats that will be best for your office dogs. Though the owners should be responsible for providing food, having a stock in case of emergency is important. You can also stock treats and dog toys for special events or to win over the love of your furry friends. Depending on where the dogs will stay while at the office, you may want to require your employees to bring dog beds for them to lay on while their owners are working. Make sure to stock pee pads for your employees to keep in the workspace to help prevent accidents. This will save you cleaning time and money in the long run.
- Consider a redesign of your space: When preparing your workplace to be dog-friendly, you may need to consider doing some new interior decorating. If your office is completely carpeted, it may be wise to install vinyl flooring that is easier to clean. You should also find a trustworthy company that can install replacement carpet in case of any accidents. Assure that your office furniture is waterproof or dog-friendly as it would get extra wear and tear. You’ll also want to go around the office and secure loose wires or chewable items that could endanger the dogs. Look at the office from a lower perspective to find areas where dogs could get into trouble. Cover garbage cans and block areas where dogs should not be allowed to enter.
- Make sure all employees are made aware of the change: Before implementing final changes and allowing dogs in the workplace, make sure you have communicated the new information to all employees. You’ll need to make sure everyone who has allergies or issues with dogs have a chance to let the employer know and move to a dog-free area of the office. You’ll also need to remember that if a larger majority of employees are against the changes than for it, you may need to reconsider becoming dog-friendly. Letting your employees know ahead of time will also give employees who would like to bring their dogs to work time to prepare and meet the set requirements.
After you’ve done all the proper research on dog health information and are ready to institute all of these tips, then you’re ready to invite dogs into the workplace! While it may take some time to finish all of the preparations, the benefits of having furry friends in the workplace will be great for both employees and the dogs alike.