What would make your workdays 1,000 per cent better? If you answered “a basket of puppies”, you’ll be happy to hear that science agrees.
Bringing dogs to work is a legit stress-buster, according to researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University in the US, who found that workers who brought their pooches to their (pet-friendly) office were significantly less stressed than those who didn’t. And the benefits don’t stop at stress relief. The same study found that the presence of pets boosted overall company morale, while another paper by Michigan-based psychologists suggested that our four-legged friends promote trust and cohesion within teams.
A paper by Michigan-based psychologists suggested that our four-legged friends promote trust and cohesion within teams.
Creating a dynamic, high-energy and happy workplace was the reason communications agency WE Buchan decided to open their doors to staff’s fur babies in June last year. They now have four office dogs that visit on a regular basis. “The biggest change we’ve seen is in employee satisfaction – everyone can’t help but feel happy when there’s a dog in the office,” says WE Buchan CEO Rebecca Wilson. “In a fast-paced, high-stress industry like public relations, having a dog in the office can encourage employees to stop, take a break and get some fresh air by taking the dog outside for a walk. We’ve also seen our employees collaborate more and become more productive when the positive energy of office pups is present.”
Online wine retailer Vinomofo has welcomed canine colleagues to its Melbourne office for the last three years, with two or three pets in residence most days. While some of the pooches take an active role, joining in on meetings and workshops, others simply chill out under their owners’ desks or on colleagues’ laps. Either way, they have a positive effect, says the company’s PR and partnership lead Erin Sing.
“We’re a lively bunch at Vinomofo, but the mood definitely lifts when there’s a gorgeous pet in the office,” Erin explains. “It’s also an amazing inter-team communication tool – we have more than 100 employees at Vinomofo, so it really helps to get everyone up from their desks to take some time with people from other teams.”
It’s not all puppacinos and Schmackos, of course – if you’re considering introducing a fur baby policy in your own business, you’ll need to (ahem) paws for thought. Not all people love dogs, and not all dogs understand office etiquette.
WE Buchan has implemented a few guidelines to ensure the pets aren’t overly disruptive, and while the current staff is dog-friendly, they have a puppy playpen ready to go should anyone need some space. “We encourage all employees who bring their dogs to work to be respectful of their colleagues,” adds Rebecca. “As a general rule, we allow one dog at a time in the office to help with this, and employees wanting to bring their dog must circulate an email to the team the day before. In terms of care, the owner is responsible for ensuring their pooch has fresh water, is regularly vaccinated and de-wormed, and has a mat to lie on if they tend to shed.”
Over at Vinomofo, “There are no hard and fast rules, just common sense and being a responsible dog owner,” Erin explains. That includes keeping pets on a leash outside the building and being mindful of coworkers on the phone or in meetings.
While accidents are bound to happen, the benefits, it seems, far outweigh the occasional puppy pitfalls. “They bring a lot of joy and comfort to the whole office,” Rebecca says. Ruff job.
Ed’s note: In case you were wondering, Collective Hub does have an office pup. His name is Benny.