Can Bringing Dogs to Work Help Your Team Become More Productive?

Can Bringing Dogs to Work Help Your Team Become More Productive?

June 23rd is the 19th annual Take Your Dog to Work Day®. In 1999, Pet Sitters International created this day so non-pet owners could experience the special bond pets have with their owners and hopefully decide to adopt a pet of their own. Over the years, the event has grown exponentially, with businesses large and small allowing their employees to bring their—well-behaved—pooches to the office.

Pets as a perk

Some employers don’t limit pets at work to one day a year, however. According to research published in the report SHRM 2016 Employee Benefits, approximately seven percent of employers allow pets in the office. For many of these organizations—typically tech companies and startups—it’s just one of the many perks they use to attract top talent.

The scientific case for bringing dogs to work

Interestingly, there’s a growing body of research that shows workplaces with dogs are less stressful and more productive. A 2016 study proved that people who played with a dog had diminished stress levels—a finding that’s highly significant when you consider that stress-related illness is a major cause of missed workdays.

As neuroeconomics professor Paul Zak of the Claremont Graduate University in California pointed out, having dogs in the workplace is a highly effective way to increase employee productivity.

What to consider when establishing a dog-friendly workplace

If you’re interested in allowing your employees to bring their dogs to work, it’s crucial to prepare properly. Keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Get input from your employees. Some people love dogs, others don’t. Some are afraid of them while others suffer from allergies. Always ask for your employees’ input. The last thing you want to do is to change your current work environment into one that’s hostile for some employees.
  • Establish rules. Only allow dogs that are socialized with humans and other canines. They should also be housetrained and up to date on all their vaccinations.
  • Create a dog-friendly environment. You should create enough space for the dogs to be by their owners’ work stations. If your office has a lot of traffic, reserve room for the dogs away from the busiest areas.
  • Be practical. Ensure there’s an outdoor space close to the office so owners can take their dogs for bathroom breaks and short walks during the day.

It will take some time and resources to establish a relaxed, dog-friendly work environment. However, when done well, your investment will pay off in terms of a less stressed and more productive workplace that not only yields higher profits, but also has the potential to attract and retain more top talent.