Dogs are humans’ best friends. But until recently, that was true mostly at home.
You could not bring your four-legged best friend to the workplace and spent the entire day without their company.
That, however, is now changing. Since the COVID lockdowns, a nice trend is picking up the pace — the trend of bringing your dogs to work.
Pets at the workplace has been a topic discussed for a long time. But, it was only addressed on a surface level — people talked about it and left it at that.
Now, though, scientific minds are at it! Recently, a lot of research has been done on whether bringing dogs to the workplace has good or bad consequences for people working there.
And, to our relief, most research shows that dogs have a good impact in the workplace.
Table of Content
How the Trend of Bringing Dogs to the Workplace Began
As the COVID pandemic raged, people we left emotionally stranded inside their own homes. With no in-person human interaction within reach, people had to look for alternative ways to gain comfort and companionship.
And that’s where dogs came in. Many people adopted dogs for this very reason.
Over time, dogs became part of many people’s families and daily lives. They became almost inseparable.
As the pandemic subsided and workplaces started opening back up, people found it difficult to leave their dogs back home. Even hybrid work schedules did not solve the issue.
Seeing how employees wanted to keep their four-legged friends close by when working (as had been the case during the work-from-home days), many companies started allowing employees to bring their dogs to the office.
Research and Results - How Dogs make a Positive Impact in the Workplace
To look into the effects of dogs’ presence in the workplace, many kinds of research have been conducted recently. Almost all of them have the same conclusion — dogs are a positive influence in the office.
What benefits, you ask? Here are a few:
Amazon was one of the first adopters of this practice, and they did not even need the pandemic to do it. The company has had a ‘Dogs at Work’ program at its headquarters for over 25 years.
Most Amazon employees have reported that they have had better morale when around dogs at work. They take short snuggle breaks and drop in during meetings just to pet dogs.
This morale boost seems to be a common thing in all the research done until now. Thus, wagging tails are proven to reduce stress, recharge humans’ batteries, and increase overall productivity.
Better Social Interactions
Having dogs around is a great ice breaker, especially if you are in an environment where you might have to meet strangers often.
Participants in these studies have recalled many instances where their dogs have helped them meet and connect with new people at the office with ease. Dogs might even tone down people’s voices and make them calmer during human-to-human interactions.
Better Employee Health
A study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University concluded that having dogs around reduced employee stress and increased satisfaction in the workplace. Dogs brought their guardians comfort at work.
Stress is one of the worst enemies a person and an organization can have. From this perspective, dogs really are a great thing in the workplace.
Increased Employee Retention
The time when employees prioritized their work too much seems to have finally gone. Now, most employees want a balance between their personal and professional lives.
The Difficulties with Allowing Dogs at Work
While there are many benefits of taking your dog to work, it’s not risk-free. There are a couple of difficulties this poses.
Some of them are:
Change in Organizational Culture
Allowing dogs at work is not an easy decision to make. To make the benefits apparent, the organizational culture has to be revamped.
Employees need to have flexible work hours and breaks. Additionally, they also need to be given job autonomy.
Without these changes, only introducing dogs will instead increase employees’ stress levels and workload.
Having dogs around while you’re working can be a big distraction. After all, who can ignore those puppy faces they make?
Too much disturbance can reduce productivity. Puppies are the most guilty of making these distractions as they have difficulty understanding commands and need frequent attention.
Physical Injuries and Hazards
Having dog chews and toys, leashes, and blankets lying around at the workplace can be a danger to the employees.
They can trip and fall on these things and injure themselves or others. Dogs can also bite and scratch people.
Fear and Uncomfort
Not everyone is comfortable with dogs. Some people might be scared of dogs, regardless of how friendly the pups are.
Similarly, others might be uncomfortable with dogs because of how they were raised. Not all cultures see dogs in a friendly way, causing an unhealthy clash in the workspace.
Dogs are a great influence in the workspace as they increase productivity and morale. But if their introduction to the workspace is not handled well, they might add stress on the employees instead of reducing them.
To tackle this change, introduce a few dogs to the workspace at a time, vaccinate them, and be patient.
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