In stress-heavy times, workplace mood lighteners are welcome suggestions – even four-legged colleagues. Across the nation in the summer month, more organizations are encouraging their employees to bring their dogs to work.
“It’s fun,” said Beth Stultz, a spokesperson at Pet Sitters International, the company that has organized “ take your dog to work” days since 1999 as a way to promote adoption. “Surveys have also found that employees feel that pets at work increase creativity, reduce absenteeism and that employees will even work longer hours when their dog is at work with them.”
In addition, she adds, a pet-friendly policy serves as a low-cost perk at a time when companies have had to decrease or eliminate other employee benefits.
Scientific research supports the movement. A Virginia Commonwealth University study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management compared employees who bring their dogs to work against who don’t. Randolph T. Barker, the lead researcher and a VCU professor, noted that the study demonstrates quantitatively that the presence of dogs at work helps reduce stress and boost job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
He showed that employees had a significant difference in perceived stress between days the dog was present and the days it was absent. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.
To be sure, dogs at work can also be chaotic if not planned in advance. To welcome four-legged companions, Stultz and other experts suggest the following tips:
First and foremost, make sure you have permission from management. Employers must provide a safe working environment and pets could provoke allergies (or even phobia) in co-workers. It’s vital to check with everyone around your office or cubicle.
You’ll also want to groom your dog a day or two before. No one likes stinky dogs, much less in close quarters. Of course, particularly if other dogs will be present, your pet should be updated on all necessary vaccines.
Just like a child needs toys, snacks and a water container on an outing, so does Spot or Fido. If possible, also pack something comfortable that your dog can sleep on.
Use a portable kennel and a baby gate for your doorway to keep your pet safe in your office and prevent him from running free, particularly when you are not in the office. As a courtesy, keep dogs out of common eating areas.
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