Dogs in the Workplace
Once a year, many pet owners celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day. I’m lucky that my workplace allows my pup, Maddie, to be a part of my workspace more than just one day a year. Every Friday, staff from my office at the Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging (V4A) and Senior Connections look forward to seeing Maddie roam the hallways. Her presence in the office soothes stress and provides much needed comic relief. The staff even refers to Fridays as “Maddie Fridays.”
VCU’s Center for Human-Animal Interaction (CHAI) has researched the effect of allowing employees’ pets in the workplace on stress and organizational perceptions. According to CHAI’s 2012 study, results showed that employees who brought pets to work saw a significant decrease in self-reported stress and a significant increase in perceived organizational support, compared to those who do not bring their pets to work. The preliminary study suggest that “dogs in the workplace may buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and may also contribute to higher job satisfaction for all employees of the organization, regardless of dog or pet ownership.” CHAI’s study has been featured in hundreds of articles since it was published and a new follow-up study is in the works.
Successful companies like Amazon, Google, and Ben and Jerry’s have adopted a pet-friendly policy. Allowing dogs in the workplace can make a lot of sense because it provides peace of mind to not think if little Duke is chowing down on your favorite leather shoes or if the traffic jam you are currently stuck in will result in your dog having an accident in the home. I’m definitely more at ease when Maddie is in the office. There is a therapeutic benefit that Maddie provides to me and my coworkers.
I highly encourage more organizations and businesses to adopt a pet-friendly office policy. Of course, please talk with your Human Resource Manager to incorporate some ground rules and prepare your workplace in advance before your four-legged friend makes his/her office debut.