Bringing your dog to work increases productivity
Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and – in addition to being a fun addition to the workplace – it is now clear that having your pet accompany you to the office is beneficial for your performance.
To improve productivity, wellbeing and engagement, many companies are allowing employees to bring dogs to the office, says Marcela Slepica, clinical services manager at AccessEAP. Furthermore, it can help combat burnout, which 95 per cent of HR managers say is “sabotaging their workforce”, she added.
“Multiple studies have shown the mental, social, and physiological health benefits of owning or interacting with an animal, which causes the body to release ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and dopamine that help combat stress, depression and anxiety,” she said.
“Additionally, pets have proven positive physical effects from improved cardiovascular health to lower cholesterol levels.”
Happy Tails product manager James Parkinson said that dogs are becoming more and more present in Australian workplaces.
“People are increasingly looking at new ways to provide the best care for their pets and for many dog owners, this includes bringing their furry friend to their job, rather than leaving them home alone. Not wanting to cart pet beds, leads, toys and food to and from work, many are setting up a ‘barking lot’ at their desks,” he said.
And, with 43 per cent of employees wanting pets to be allowed in their offices and 39 per cent claiming this would increase their productivity, Ms Slepica outlined five reasons why businesses “should allow (wo)man’s best friend” into the workplace:
“Between meetings, client requests, business opportunities, emails and the many other requirements of our daily working life, it’s hard to find time for mindfulness,” Ms Slepica explained.
“Taking a few minutes to step away from your to-do list and clear your mind can help reduce burn out by reducing stress and regulating emotion. Dogs require us to stop what we are doing and pay them attention, this reminds us to take a break and focus on something enjoyable, be that taking them for a walk or simply giving a good boy (or girl) a well-deserved pat.”
From fetching a ball to regular walks, dogs require exercise to remain physically healthy just like us and studies have found that dog owners are 34 per cent more likely to rack up 150 minutes of walking each week than non-dog owners, she continued.
“However, the benefits don’t stop there, a Victorian study found that people who exercise regularly have lower rates of mental illness and better emotional wellbeing. Dogs need to be walked regularly and during the workday – this can provide the incidental movement for those in sedentary roles.”
Sometimes called the ‘protector factor’, the sense of responsibility and reward that comes from looking after something that relies on you for food, shelter and interaction provides owners with purpose and routine that requires them to interact with the world and rewards them for doing so, she said.
“This can help alleviate the effects of isolating conditions such as depression and anxiety. Pets, especially dogs do not judge, criticise nor blame – they wag their tails with happiness when they see you and don’t complain or ask for much except attention and love.”
“This acceptance and giving to a pet and receiving in return is hugely beneficial for wellbeing, feelings of depression and builds resilience,” she said.
“Not only is having a dog in the office a stress buster, they can also act as a social catalyst by creating an ice breaker between team members,” Ms Slepica said.
“For those employees who struggle to form bonds with their peers or clients, dogs can also form a bridge for a common conversation thereby easing social anxiety as the focus is not on the individuals. This can lead to increased social interactions leading to less isolation and loneliness and can help people to connect with others.”
It’s a work perk:
“For many dog owners, being able to bring their pet to work is a huge convenience that makes their job possible, while for prospective employees it can be a great added incentive. By avoiding the cost and inconvenience of expensive dog day care and walking services, the financial pressure and stress of pet ownership is reduced, allowing team members to focus on their job.”
“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain