Research has shown that allowing dogs to come to the workplace can lead to a better working environment. So, how do you create a dog-friendly atmosphere?
A 2017 study shows that having dogs in the office can reduce stress levels, provide social support and, in some cases, even increase productivity. So, why don’t all offices allow their employees to bring their dogs to work?
For every benefit of a dog-friendly office, there are also hazards, obstacles and disadvantages for other employees. So, while a dog-friendly policy is an increasingly attractive benefit and one that is becoming more common, it’s important that it’s implemented the correct way.
The first thing to consider before introducing a dog-friendly policy is find out if any employees have allergies. Some people may also be afraid of dogs or would prefer not to have them in the office. This isn’t the easiest opinion to express, so conducting an anonymous survey is a good place to start. After all, the potential benefits that come with having dogs in the office will only happen if employees actually want the policy.
The second thing to consider is the conduct of the animals that might be present in the office. Dogs that bark a lot might cause disruptions to those on an important call. Puppies that aren’t fully trained might have an accident in the office. Hyper pets that run around a lot might become a tripping hazard. It’s important that any dog-friendly policy takes these things into consideration. In addition to this, employees’ tolerance levels might depend on the type of dog. For example, someone might be terrified of larger dogs such as Rottweilers but more comfortable with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
It’s also important to take the dogs’ welfare into account. Will there be a space set up to feed the dogs? Is there easy access to an outdoor space? This will be particularly important if your policy intends to allow multiple dogs in the office. Will they be interacting? How will this affect them?
Where to start
Because a dog-friendly policy will have an effect on all employees, it’s important to devise a strategy with input from your employees from the beginning.
Start with the anonymous survey to both gauge interest and find out about any concerns employees may have. Once you have these answers, you can then look at addressing any concerns before moving forward.
If you want to trial the benefits of bringing dogs to the office, a good option is to partner with a dog rescue shelter to bring rescue dogs into your office once a month. This way, your employees can reap the benefits of enjoying some canine time before managers work out the logistics of allowing employees of bringing their own pets to work. Last month Edelman account director Ishtar Schneider wrote on LinkedIn about her company’s new ‘Paws from Work’ initiative that sees rescue dogs from Mayhew Animal Home arrive to the office once a quarter.
When all the above factors have been considered, starting off with a ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’ might be the best and least invasive way to establish a dog-friendly atmosphere in your office. Speaking to dog homes or shelters that would be able to carefully select dogs with a calm disposition that would be suitable for the workplace could also be a good move. You could also consult with them when considering bringing your dog-friendly policy to the next level.