An HSE report states that over 12 million days are lost in the UK each year due to work related stress, anxiety or depression. There have been numerous studies over the years looking at the benefits of animal interaction from therapy dogs for recovering patients to stress prevention through petting a feline friend. Nestle (who own the pet brand Purina) started their Pets at Work (PaW) scheme in 2015 and have now rolled it out to 5 of their sites due to its success. Aside from reducing stress there are many more benefits for your employees in being able to bring their dogs to work.
- Making new friends, and I don’t just mean four-legged ones. People are more likely to stop and chat with your dog even if they don’t know you, meaning employees meet and get to know people from other departments.
- Having your dog at work means less chance of rushing out the door worrying about your pet on their own at home. This gives staff the flexibility to choose their hours without the worry of pet care.
- Physical health can be improved because your dog needs to go out for a walk at lunchtime and therefore so must you.
- Dog cuddles.
It isn’t quite as easy as just opening the door to every fluffy friend though, there are a number of things to consider first.
- Does your building or office allow animals? In some cases, office leases may not allow animals so make sure you investigate before starting doggy daycare.
- How do your staff feel about having animals in the office? It is important that inviting animals into the workplace has a positive impact so make sure you are aware of any allergies of phobias.
- Are your applicants suitable? In the same way that you interview people to join the company, dogs should be able to pass a series of tests to assess their suitability for your office. If a dog is going to spend long hours (or flexible ones, because our canine employees deserve the same benefits), they need to be able to behave to a standard that won’t reduce the productivity of your office. Basic commands, toilet training and sociability as well as making sure they have the appropriate vaccinations are a must.
- Is your office suitable for pets? There needs to be somewhere for pets to sleep and eat whilst their owners are working as well as having somewhere to take them out for walks and toilet trips.
If your office is not suitable for dogs, there are other office animals you could consider, here are some alternative workplace pets.
- Cat – May ruin all the furniture and take unauthorised absences. Does not take direction well.
- Fish – Poor detail retention but nice to look at.
- Tortoise – Slow, but will never leave.
- Guinea Pig – Great for running new ideas past.
- Zebra – Impractical.