Creating a Dog-Friendly Office for your Employees
Dogs are an important part of our lives. Now, most people might not understand the sentiments attached to that furry friend of ours. But trust me, once you get one, your life will change in all the good ways.
I am sure your work life is not without any stress and tension. In fact, modern workplaces turn out to be more stressful, thanks to the unending work demands. Not to mention how the pandemic has added to it.
However, studies have shown that, since 2020, global wellbeing has improved. But it still remains low as compared to the pre-pandemic period.
While many have adopted dogs during the work-from-home period, others had dogs already from before. But what happens when you have separation anxiety with your pet, or there is no one to take care of it at home while you have to go to work?
That is when the requirement for a dog-friendly office arises.
Sometimes, every dog owner might want to take their furry companions to their offices. And I feel it’s a good idea to allow pets in the office considering they bring positivity and good health.
Benefits of Having a Dog for Health and Wellbeing
Before delving into how dog-friendly offices are great for spreading positivity, let us talk about how they are good for overall wellness.
1. Boost our Mood
How would you feel when you work all day and come home to a creature showering a hundred kisses and wagging their tails in excitement? Full of love? That's right. This is what happens when you have dogs at home.
They calm our minds and take our stress away. With dogs around, our stress hormone gives away the stage to the feel-good hormone, serotonin.
Now, there are various types of pets. We might even have fish as pets too. The sight of looking at them or cuddling with them relaxes us and boosts our mood.
And when our moods improve, so does our health. In our day-to-day lives, we have to deal with a lot of stress personally and professionally. Our cortisol levels are mostly high these days.
In such times, having a dog acts as a mood booster, fostering good mental health contributing positively to physical wellness.
2. Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Having dogs is no less than having a kid. We must pay equal attention to their needs and care for them. So, if you have dogs, they will require some activity like going on walks or playing. Because, like humans, animals, too, need an active lifestyle to stay healthy.
Now, how does that help you?
When you take your dog on regular walks, exercise, and play with it, it will boost your health too. While playing with your pet at home or outside, your mind is calm and happy. It leads to stable mental health. Not to mention how doing activities with your dogs also requires you to move and stay active.
As we have established, a dog-friendly household is a healthy and happy household. Thus, when your mind is without stress, and your body is in active mode, all your organs function smoothly.
The heart functions properly, and blood pressure reduces along with cholesterol levels and many more. A healthy lifestyle follows a person with dogs around.
3. Boost Social Connections
Are you one of those people who stops whenever they see a dog on the street?
Being a pet parent comes with its share of responsibilities. For instance, dog owners have a responsibility to walk their dogs in the neighborhood. By doing so, they get to socialize with one another.
Speaking from experience, I see other people walking their dogs when I take my dog for a walk. And often, we get into a conversation about our dogs which go on and on.
That is an amazing way of socializing. You get to meet new people and make friends in the process while your pets play and get to know each other as well. Also, some people might stop by and say hi when they see you walking your dogs. They could ask your permission to pet them.
Thus, having dogs boosts your social life and helps you build connections.
4. Act as a Counselor
Many workplaces use dogs as therapists. As dogs help with stress relief, they make perfect counselors. Mental health therapists often keep a therapy dog for assistance. Thus, having a dog in the office can relieve stress and freshen your mind.
There is a story about a couple working in the same office. One day they got into an argument. On hearing them argue, the therapy dog who slept during such sessions woke up and wanted to go out. Probably because of the discomfort he felt with all the fighting and yelling.
The staff used that incident to show the couple how fighting negatively impacts the environment and can adversely affect others, mainly children.
5. Help with Depression
Depression is a serious issue. The feeling of loneliness and other heightened negative emotions make one feel at their lowest. But when you have friendly company with you at all times, things become less difficult.
You can bet on the fact that there is no one else in this world who can love you more than your pet. The love your pets shower on you makes you feel significant and worth it.
During hard times, your dog will always be there to listen if you need someone to vent out or express your feelings to. And cuddling your pet anyway helps you feel calmer. Not to mention how having a dog involves one taking care of it.
This includes engaging in walking it, grooming it, and playing with it. This kind of activity keeps one busy, takes one out of themselves, and makes them feel better about their time.
Therefore, having a pet can help you storm through the difficult phase of life and can even ease your depression if you are going through it.
6. Improve Physical Health
Keeping a dog requires you to walk it, clean it, feed and play with it. Taking care of your pet is not an easy task. You have to stay active at all times.
Taking your dogs to walk and playing with them not only helps them to be energized but also boosts your wellbeing. Your physical activities increase which leads to a healthy and fit lifestyle.
7. Faithful Companion
Do you know there exists a term called "doga"? It is nothing but yoga practice with dogs. This practice was introduced in the US in 2002.
The doga teachers believe that when dogs accompany people during the practice, there develops an environment of laughter and relief, making people stress-free, thus freeing themselves of negative thoughts. Doga boosts a great bonding between the dogs and their owners.
Although the dogs do not perform yoga, they accompany their owners and help with motivation. And most importantly, dogs are not humans; they will never leave your side and will keep you safe and happy, even during workouts. Sometimes, they can even try certain postures which are beneficial for their health as well.
What more do you need? Also, to make it fun for your furry friends, you can bring some toys to the practice for them to enjoy the session as well.
8. Uplift Mental Health
Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell. – Emily Dickinson
We have already established the fact that dogs can brighten up your life. They have the potential to cheer you up and keep you sane. After a tiring and busy day at work, coming home to those soulful eyes can take your worries away.
Dogs help one be stable even during the most difficult times. That one look and the heart melts away. You cry, they will sit with you, you laugh, they will be with you. Infact, dogs will never make you feel lonely, uplifting your mental health.
Benefits of a Dog-friendly Office
Animals are such agreeable friends. They ask no questions; they pass no criticisms. – George Eliot
There might be times when we are at work and our little friends fall sick or require some help. In such situations, be it minor or major, we have to call out of work, rush and tend to that emergency. But if our pets are with us at work, we can handle the situation in an easier and calmer way.
Now, for me, a dog-friendly workplace is a necessity because I have separation anxiety with my dog. But not necessarily everyone thinks alike. Some people do not like having dogs and are not fond of animals.
In such cases, having a dog-friendly office would not sit well with everyone. This is why we created this article to spread the positives of having dogs at work.
1. Reduces Stress
Working a 9-5 job is as stressful as it sounds. We know that dogs keep stress at bay and are known for their emotional support. And what better way than to start taking them to work to keep you relaxed and feel at home?
Whenever you feel exhausted and worn down at work, you can take a break and bond with your pet or take them outside on a walk. Your dogs cannot just sit in one place the entire day, right? You have to indulge yourself in providing them with a comfortable space and ensuring their wellbeing.
So, take them out on walks whenever you are done with a task. Take some alone time to rejuvenate. This activity will make you physically active and mentally refreshed, too.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, approximately 40% of American workers feel overworked and pressured.
2. Boosts Productivity
When you take breaks between tasks and go out in nature to walk your pet, your mind gets clear and unclogged. This helps you rejuvenate and bring your focus once you come back to your chair and resume work. It feels like your brain is fully charged, ready to concentrate and complete the work.
And taking your dog to work gives you a reason to take those breaks. Because with all the deadlines and meetings, one hardly makes time to eat lunch, let alone take walking breaks.
But with your dogs around, you cannot help but make time to go out with them. The more you take healthy breaks between work schedules, the more productive you become.
Having a dog around also boosts thinking capacity. Research says dogs enhance people's ability to think, concentrate, plan, and memorize. And in an office environment, that is what every employee desires, as it helps them be more efficient.
3. Spreads Positivity
Allowing everyone to bring their dogs to work creates a positive workplace environment. Your little furry friends can light up the office with their cute tactics. Their unconditional love showers for everyone are definitely going to brighten up people's moods amidst all the workplace stress.
And how can you not smile looking at those purest eyes?
Anyway, meetings, spreadsheets, and presentations are the things we juggle at work. Admit it or not, spending too much time on one task can make one lose their mind. Thus, those temporary distractions with your pet help you take mental breaks, boosting your spirits.
Having fun and being positive is as contagious as negativity and stress, but that positivity comes with better communication and morale.
4. Healthcare Savings
Having dogs can be a proactive way of staying healthy and avoiding health risks. As per research, pet parents have shown lower health issues like obesity, etc. When employees bring their dogs to work, they also have to invest some time in them.
For e.g, short walks, filling the water bowls, playtime, socializing with peers, and introducing their dogs to one another. These activities boost physical and mental wellbeing, which ultimately helps with healthcare costs. Reduced stress and inactivity lower healthcare costs too.
When employees do not fall sick, and there is no absenteeism, the company benefits from it. Hundreds of dollars are saved as healthcare savings. Therefore, dogs save money on a personal and professional level.
5. Employee Retention
A company that allows dogs in the workplace wins the hearts of the pet-owning employees. Bringing their dogs to work is a dream for such employees.
And when an organization thinks for its employees, it will surely get high praise from them. Most importantly, this act will boost employee morale and loyalty toward the company.
Your employees will be highly motivated to work for you and give their best to deliver productive results. And it will help your company grow and retain your employees. Because, at the end of the day, a company that cares about its employees is worth working for.
According to a recent Rover.com survey of dog owners, 75% said they were more likely to stay with an employer that allows them to bring their pets.
6. Improves Connections
One pet parent meets another. What happens?
There are socializations and interactions. When someone brings their pet to work, they see another employee with their own pet. That will create a common topic for both parties to strike up a conversation. And obviously, both dogs will socialize with each other, boosting connections.
Dogs boost workplace camaraderie and start interactions, which would not have happened otherwise. It is difficult for people to start talking to one another without having shared interests.
Also, amongst so many employees, one often find it tiresome to socialize with everyone. But bringing the dogs into the office can give one a hundred reasons to do so.
The more we communicate with our peers, the more trust we build. This might help us in the long run. Trust is an important factor for surviving in an organization. And if you find people, you can trust, your morale, teamwork, and productivity all rise.
A study by LiveCareer found 94% of people were supportive of having Dogs in the workplace
How can Employers implement a Dog-friendly Office?
A pet-friendly office is most people's dream. However, incorporating that would require a good deal of strategy and planning.
Now, if you are an employer heading towards becoming a dog friendly company, here are some things you should consider.
1. Take Employee Feedback
Before going forward with the implementation of a dog-friendly policy, make sure your employees are on the same page. As it is known, not everyone is fond of dogs. Some might even have allergies or are scared of them. In such situations, having a dog-friendly office can lead to negative consequences.
To prevent this from happening, it is better to implement the policy in a way that works for everyone. You need to ensure that all the employees are comfortable with your decision.
Doing an anonymous survey can help in this case.
Do a normal survey among employees to see how they feel about dogs and sharing the office space with them. That way, you get to know their feedback and introduce the policy accordingly. The more flexible you are, the lesser issues you face.
2. Talk to your Employees who are Pet Parents
Although every pet is nice to have around, not all of them are friendly and used to being in social situations for long periods. So, before introducing them to the office environment, it is important to talk to the employees with dogs and acquire details.
There is a matter of safety for other dogs and humans. For instance, an employee might have a moody dog who gets aggressive sometimes. In such cases, you need to converse with all the pet parents and know how their dogs react in different situations. Also, they need to know that they will be responsible for their pet's actions.
Because at the end of the day, those dogs will be around everyone present in the office.
Amazon employees at the Seattle headquarters share their workspace with as many as 7,000 dogs. The Amazonian dogs get plenty of attention and can also visit the reception desks for dog treats.
3. Create Proper Guidelines
Having a pet in the workplace comes with a set of responsibilities for the owner. Therefore, incorporating a policy with proper guidelines is the first step towards a dog-friendly office. The guidelines are necessary for the smooth functioning of the policy without complaints and disturbances.
These will include everything, from setting down rules for leashing and barking to where the dogs can get access and not. Because no one wants to hear all the barking while in a meeting, right?
For instance, should dogs be allowed in the conference room or the kitchen? Lay out your expectations to the pet owners about where their little friends are allowed to relieve themselves. If employees adhere to those guidelines, the workplace will be free of accidents and chaos.
These guidelines will make work easier for both employers and employees. Everyone will have a peaceful, working, dog-friendly environment where all coexist with each other. Thus, come up with a list of do's and don'ts and strictly make everyone follow that.
4. Ensure the Building is Dog-friendly
The most important thing to decide before implementation is whether you are making your workplace dog-friendly all 5 days of the week or just 1 day. Once you take the employee feedback, you need to consult with the lease manager to get his permission. Make sure you know the ins and outs of the agreement.
Not every office can accommodate dogs successfully. Certain problems might arise regarding the building or the people. Under such circumstances, one must stay open-minded and figure out what works best for your employees and their dogs and what liabilities you have to bear in certain cases.
So, if the building owner is not keen on allowing dogs on a daily basis, you can fix one day for your employees to bring dogs to the workplace. Like, every Friday can be a dog-friendly Friday.
The lease manager might also ask you to use one elevator for your pet and not use the other one. You have to adhere to that as well. All in all, you have to consider everyone's choices.
Also, tenants often negotiate successfully with landlords and convince them to allow dogs. You can do that by stating the benefits of having dogs around and assuring them that everything will be intact, and should any damage be caused, you will take full responsibility for that.
Google employees from 70 offices worldwide can bring their dogs to work, and Google affectionately calls these furry friends Dooglers. The company cafe sells specialty treats for pups.
5. Sign Pet Applications
When you allow dogs in the workplace, make an application for the pet owners where all the rules and regulations are laid down. Ask them to fill and sign it.
The application will include basic things like agreeing with the guidelines, vaccination details, and taking full responsibility. That way, the process will be smooth and in order.
6. Gate certain areas for Dogs
Some employees might be unhappy with the idea of a dog-friendly office. And that's totally fine. So, to introduce a dog-friendly office while not compromising the comfort of others, it is better to gate certain areas for the dogs.
They can be allotted certain areas inside the office, like the owner's cube, then a roaming and playing space for them.
Allotting specific places for dogs can help other employees know where they should and should not expect them to be. That way, both employees and the dogs can feel comfortable.
Moreover, the little friends will need some open space too for relieving themselves, like a safe walking route for their parents to take them on washroom breaks.
So, the work environment should be safe and welcoming to them. Block off the areas that might be dangerous to them and keep cleaning supplies available. And, to make the pet's experience smooth in your office, try to keep dog treats and other food items for them.
Tips for Pet Owners
Certain things have to be done from the employee side before proceeding with the dog-friendly policy.
Make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date.
Keep your dogs clean and free of ticks and fleas, for these might spread disease to other dogs and humans. Always carry grooming and cleaning supplies for emergencies.
Do not bring your pet to work if they are uncomfortable around many people. This can lead to anxiety for them. Respect their comfort.
Do not let them roam around anywhere without supervision, for it might involve risk for them and others as well.
Carry food and bowls for your dogs. If needed, also carry peeing mats.
Do not overwhelm your dogs by bringing them to work every day. Start with one day, then move forward.
Make others aware of your pet's habits and mood. Also, let them know about their dietary behaviors.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I make my workplace dog-friendly?
Come up with a policy with proper guidelines for pet owners to follow.
Take employee feedback.
Ensure the building allows dogs.
Assign certain specific areas for pets.
Provide the dogs with proper comfort.
2. Is allowing dogs in the office a good idea?
Dogs can make the workplace livelier and boost productivity and overall wellness benefitting both employees and employers.
3. Why do we need pet-friendly offices?
Pets bring positivity and good health. Moreover, it often gets difficult for pet owners to leave their little friends at home while they go to work. Many pets and humans develop separation anxiety.
Although pet parents would love to take their dogs to work, they might first consider whether it is in the latter's best interest.
Of course, dogs like to be around their humans, but it is not necessary that they love to socialize with others too. Just like in humans, the concept of introverts and extroverts exists among animals too.
Thus, when implementing a dog-friendly office policy, make sure you and your employees do not put stress on the dogs by bringing them to work. Because for some animals, home is where they best like to be.
Otherwise, who does not want those furry babies around?
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