By Brie Weiler Reynolds, the Director of Online Content at FlexJobs
Over 70 million households in the U.S. own at least one “companion animal”–dogs, cats, birds, or horses–so it makes sense that more companies are welcoming their employees’ best friends in the office. The companionship offered by these animals at home, and the benefits their friendship provides in terms of health and wellness, can easily translate to a happier and healthier workplace.
Take Your Dog to Work Day is an annual event designed to promote dog adoption, and in 2013, thousands of employers participated in the day by allowing employees to bring their dogs and other animal companions to work. Of course, not all pets are suited for the workplace–horses, for example–but dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals are great candidates for officemates.
Yawning dog credit: mhaw via Flickr
Here are five ways companies can benefit from encouraging employees to bring their pets to work.
Reduced Stress: Service dogs are often called upon to visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and areas affected by natural disasters, helping to cheer peoples’ spirits. Friendly dogs in the workplace can do the same! According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, pets at work help lower cortisol levels and raise productivity, something all workplaces could benefit from.
Increased Trust and Collaboration: Aside from being man’s best friend, it turns out that dogs can be mediators, bridge builders, and productivity coaches, too! Employees are more trusting and collaborative with one another when a dog is present during group meetings, according to a study by Central Michigan University.
Image credit: Nate Steiner via Flickr
Improved Attendance: It’s not scientifically proven, but employees themselves believe that allowing pets in the workplace helps reduce absenteeism, according to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.
Enhanced All-Around Wellness: The benefits of a “walking meeting,” where people conduct their regular or impromptu meetings while taking a stroll, have been touted since the days of Aristotle. Particularly with dogs in the workplace who will need to be walked throughout the day, walking meetings can help creativity, collaboration, teamwork, and employee morale. The added benefit is that employees are no longer spending eight hours sitting in a chair, but rather getting outside for fresh air and physical activity.
In the U.S., about 20 percent of companies already allow employees to bring pets to work. If yours isn’t one of them, consider requesting a trial run. Your manager might be overwhelmed by the thought of doing this every day, but once you’ve had your furry friends in the office for a one-time visit, managers might not be able to resist inviting them to be a regular part of the team.
Image credit of kitten: Sarah and Jason via Flickr
Do you have any pet coworkers? If so, how do you enjoy working with them?
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Online Content at FlexJobs , the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings, and the proud co-worker of Dizzle, a boxer-beagle mix. Brie provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.