One of the recommendations in The Healthy Workplace is to consider allowing employees to bring their pets to work. I realize that not every workplace can get away with this… there are allergies, safety issues, and other hygiene-related considerations to work out. But if you’ve ever had a dog or cat, you know there are real benefits, like helping to reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, increase activity and improve socialization. But can bringing a pet to work make you more productive?
Interestingly, a growing body of evidence suggests that pets in the office can have health benefits, improve morale, even increase collaboration among workers. In some cases, pet owners may work longer hours if they don’t feel they have to rush home to let their dogs out at the end of the day. Randolph Barker, professor of management in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business has studied dogs in the workplace, and found that bringing them to work resulted in a measurable decline in stress among workers over the course of a day. Companies that allow dogs to work include Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Google, Clif Bar & Company, and Proctor and Gamble’s Pet Care Division. Note, many companies that allow dogs have a strict policy restricting cats at work (cats and dogs don’t always get along).
Even if it’s too difficult to work through the politics of letting employees bring in pets every day, consider some alternatives:
- Bring in puppies or kittens to work for a few hours. Sam Whiteside, the Chief Wellness Officer at The Motley Fool will bring in puppies when she knows a team is working hard on a deadline, to lighten things up. Ask around – there are services that will do this!
- Create a “bring your pet to work day.”
- Allow pets to come to family picnics or events. Hey, pets are family too!
- Get a mascot. Maybe it doesn’t make sense for every employee to bring in their dog or cat, but having just one pet might be just the ticket. If you’ve ever been to the Hotel Algonquin in New York (or read The Algonquin Cat), you know this can be a competitive advantage.
Clearly, many of our furry friends agree. I’d like to thank Bella (c/o Bud Jackson), Isu (c/o Jennifer Zucker), Cindy (c/o Jim Turnure) and Bosco (c/o Georgia Sullivan Wasley) for their support on book launch week.