Creating a dog-friendly office environment is a rising trend in the UK, not least due to the considerable increase in dog ownership over the past few years. Whilst not without its challenges, allowing employees to bring their canine companions to work could be hugely beneficial to your entire organisation.
1. Reduces stress levels
As many businesses attempt to encourage more workers to return to the office on a full-time or hybrid basis, implementing a dog-friendly policy is worth serious consideration. Here are 8 reasons why.
Numerous studies provide direct evidence that petting and interacting with dogs significantly lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases our levels of oxytocin and dopamine, helping us to feel happy and relaxed.
With stress being a major contributor to absenteeism, job dissatisfaction, and employee burnout, it makes sense for employers to find ways to tackle these potentially debilitating feelings of pressure.
In addition to making life easier for pet parents, a Virginia Commonwealth University study shows that a dog-friendly office can have a positive impact on the stress levels and overall mental health of other employees too.
2. Boosts morale
For many workers, arriving at the office each morning is a less than thrilling experience. But it’s a heck of a lot more exciting when there’s a floppy-eared dog waiting to greet them with wide-eyed adoration and a wiggly rear end.
They make people smile, lift their spirits, and inspire better relations between colleagues, all of which can help to boost morale and promote feelings of positivity in the workplace.
With this type of environment on offer, your employees will be running to the office each day with the same exuberance as a Labrador chasing a tennis ball.
3. Increases productivity
Whilst you may initially assume that dogs in the office would be a huge distraction, their presence is shown to encourage a collaborative company culture and improve productivity levels, provided that the situation is well-managed.
Since dogs help to lower stress levels and improve our mood, employees feel more relaxed and are better able to focus. In turn, this facilitates creative thinking, problem solving, and increased engagement in their work.
4. Encourages healthy habits
Being stuck indoors at a desk all day can be draining, making workers tired and sluggish. Moreover, the sedentary nature of office jobs is associated with a host of health risks, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and poor mental health.
Having dogs in the office provides an opportunity to tackle these issues and encourage healthy habits. Dogs require regular toilet breaks and short walks throughout the day, forcing employees to get up from their desks and head outside for a quick stroll in the fresh air – and a longer walk at lunchtime.
Taking the time to look out for their dogs’ needs, like making sure they are fed and hydrated, can also remind employees to take better care of themselves at work by eating properly and drinking lots of fluids.
5. Improves employee retention
When employees are happy in the workplace, they are less likely to look elsewhere for a new job. As high numbers of workers continue to resign, creating a dog-friendly office is a smart strategy for improving employee satisfaction and retention.
Many people are also reluctant to return to the office after previously working from home. A dog-friendly policy can ease their transition and make the office a more enticing and welcoming place for everyone to work.
As an employer, it’s important not to underestimate how people feel about their dogs. According to a recent survey by US pet product company BARK, 70% of dog parents will miss their dog when they have to return to work, whilst far fewer feel the same way about their spouses and children!
6. Helps to attract new talent
As of 2023, an estimated 29% of UK adults have a dog. This equates to around 11 million dogs, of which approximately 4.1 million have been purchased or adopted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s a huge number of people who have to consider their pooches when looking for a job. Consequently, allowing dogs in the office can widen the available talent pool, helping businesses to attract people who are either currently working from home or in a pet-friendly workplace.
7. Employee convenience
Allowing employees to bring their dogs to work can be really helpful to them in terms of day-to-day planning. They won’t have to arrange and rely on pet care, nor will they have to rush out of the office at the end of the day to get home for their faithful companion.
A pet-friendly policy can also help dog owners from a financial perspective. As the cost of living increases exponentially, paying hundreds of pounds a month for doggy-daycare or dog walkers may be beyond the reach of many workers.
8. Breaks down social barriers
Dogs in the workplace can act as a social catalyst, breaking down barriers and making it easier for employees to bond with one another. This is especially beneficial for new team members, but dogs can also foster social integration and cohesion amongst existing employees who may not otherwise interact with one another.
Whilst the aim is not to encourage your employees to spend more time socialising in the office than doing their jobs, positive relations between employees creates a happier office environment, improves communication and collaboration, and leads to better job performance.
Paws for thought
Far more than a marketing gimmick or a way to improve the work-life balance of only a few employees, the benefits of allowing dogs in the workplace make it a worthwhile consideration for many businesses.
Whilst careful planning is required, creating a dog-friendly office can serve as a low-cost employment perk, wellness intervention, and effective business strategy. And everyone has the best dog! So, you’re guaranteed to get all the good boys and girls in your office.