There’s a reason we have pets in our lives: they’re our constant companions who bring joy, reduce stress and ease loneliness. Well, now I want to tell you all the reasons pets should not only be in our lives, but also in our offices.
This article has been retimed in honour of National Take Your Dog To Work Day on June 24.
Pets help mental health and welfare
Last year, our family dog, Chewie, had his first day at the office. Obviously, he worked very hard and earned all of his pats. But as an 8-month old puppy, his most important job was just to be himself.
Chewie was the first participant in a new initiative at my Dad’s workplace that they’re calling “Furry Fridays”. Throughout the year, everyone will get the chance to bring their dog into the office and help make Fridays an even better day to look forward to.
In my Dad’s office, this is a pretty important initiative because of the nature of the job. At the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, staff are exposed to high-stress, traumatic content each and every day.
So finding ways to take care of everyone’s mental health at work is a top priority, and this is just one of the ways to do it.
Dogs can be the cause of positivity and laughter in the workplace, which research shows is just as contagious as negativity and stress, but instead promotes better morale.
I dare you not to feel good around this guy:
Dogs bring good vibes to the office
Not everyone needs a high-stress job to benefit from having a furry friend around the office.
A Time article from 2018 claimed that dogs provide social support and comfort in a work environment. With just their presence they can promote better communication between employees which also helps to establish trust.
Dog-friendly work environments can also be a huge drawcard when looking at workplace culture. The positive and comforting environment a pet can bring is also a great incentive for employees returning to the office after a year of working from home.
Speaking as someone who works in a dog-friendly office I can confirm there are 100% more smiles on faces every day.
They boost productivity
Feeding off the positive work environment that pets create is an immediate way to boost productivity in a workplace as well as promote a better work-life balance.
Research shows that pets are a great reminder for employees to take necessary breaks and step back from stressful projects. Being reminded to take walks, give pats or have a little playtime is a great way for both pet owners and other staff to physically move away from their desks and take a mental break.
This in turn reduces stress and overworking.
It’s also good for the dogs
Many dog owners can attest to the fact that it’s always hard to leave your pet when you go to work. Particularly if you know they’re waiting at the door for you all day.
Giving them the chance to come with you to the office, even for just one day a week, can do wonders for your dog’s separation anxiety (and yours).
It’s also a great way to help socialise your dog with other people and they’re guaranteed to get constant love and attention from your colleagues. In Chewie’s case, it was also a great opportunity for him to socialise with other dogs!
Things to consider
Of course there a few things to consider before bringing your fluffy companion into the workplace or starting a pet-friendly initiative at work.
The RSPCA recommends a number of actions, including checking whether anyone at your workplace is allergic to animals and that your pet is trained and micro-chipped before coming in.
Obviously, not all pets make for the best workmates.
It’s important that your dog is socialised prior to coming to the office and doesn’t pose any threat of attack to your colleagues. Having a non-disruptive temperament is also best — you don’t want your dog constantly barking, chewing things they shouldn’t or running amok in the office.
Everyone in the office also needs to be comfortable with the idea of having animals around, so be sure to consult with the workplace before introducing any initiatives.
How to make your office dog-friendly
Speaking of consulting with the workplace, how do you go about preparing your office for some new furry workmates?
The folks over at Scratch Pet Food have put together the ultimate guide on getting your workplace ready for some dog friends.
The main things to remember are:
- Create a roster and set a number of dogs per area to suit the space
- All new dogs or infrequent dogs should meet the regular dogs outside first so that they place nice.
- Have hooks throughout the office where people can tie a lead and restrain their dog
- Dog beds, bowls and play areas provided (plus food, treats and pats of course)
- Install dog gates throughout the office to be able to section off dogs and particularly allow regular dogs their own space to rest and not just run amok
- The owner is invited to set clear boundaries on what behaviour they’re OK with in regards to people playing with their dog, feeding them, bringing their own dog over to them, etc.
- Set up a grassy area or make sure there are areas that are accessible for toilet breaks.
And of course, let’s not forget the other pets. Dogs are the more common workplace companions but there’s no reason other pets can’t also have a positive influence on the office.
Cats, birds, fish, turtles — you’d be surprised at the positive mark animals can leave on the humans around them.