Gog in the office

Human Animal Interaction

Workplaces that don’t allow dogs could be barking up the wrong tree

New study suggests appropriate ‘bring your dog to work’ policies could capitalise on the benefits whilst overcoming the downsides

There is growing evidence that taking your pet to the office can reduce stress and increase your productivity. Despite these gains, some employees remain unconvinced. Opponents cite fear of dogs, health and safety and allergies as potential issues.

A new University of Lincoln study conducted in collaboration with WALTHAM suggests these concerns may not be experienced in practice. Carefully designed policies may alleviate potential worries and allow employees to capitalise on the benefits. The research provides a source of information to help employers navigate the key stages of developing their own successful policy.

Surveying over 700 office based individuals from countries around the globe the study explored the perceived pros and cons of office dogs. Many people expressed positive perceptions of dogs in the workplace; stress reducing effects and increased social interactions where just two. One respondent stated “…most say our dogs are stress relievers - they come by and pet or play with the dogs throughout the day”. Concerns likely to be standing in the way of more widespread acceptance focused on environment suitability and health and safety. The researchers found that these concerns didn’t translate into practice, and could be alleviated by appropriate policies.

“Many full time workers struggle with feelings of guilt when faced with leaving their dog home alone. Being able to bring them to the office is a great way for increasing the time pet and owner can spend together each day. Indeed, it can also deliver mental and physical benefits to the work place. These gains are not just experienced by the owners, but also their non-dog owning colleagues” says Prof. Daniel Mills, senior investigator on the study. “In settings where dogs are allowed at work it often appears to be a casual agreement. For the potential benefits to be experienced more widely, those that do allow the practice should communicate how the perceived problems can be overcome”.

“We suggest that allowing dogs into offices could bring valuable benefits to employee well-being and performance, with the potential to improve the productivity and profitability of many businesses” says Sandra McCune, WALTHAM Human-Animal Interaction Scientific Leader. “Business managers should work with animal behaviourists, vets and health and occupational psychologists to develop effective ‘bring your dog to work’ policies”.

Labrador dog by a desk in an office