The Business Case for Pets in the Office...

Is there anything worse than the feeling you get when your dog stares up at you with the saddest face in the world as you’re getting ready to leave for work?

Before you even walk out the door, you’re already stressed out and unable to focus. It just sets the tone for a lousy, unproductive day. This is why more and more companies are allowing employees to bring pets to work.

For all you naysayers who think these businesses are barking up the wrong tree, perhaps you’ll be swayed by the scientific research.

A study by Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees who bring dogs to work produced lower levels of cortisol, a stress-causing hormone. Over the course of the day, stress levels dropped about 11 percent for those who brought dogs.

And for those who didn’t bring dogs? Their stress increased 70 percent by the end of the day.

Almost half of employees who brought their dogs to work reported a boost in productivity, while the rest reported no noticeable difference.

And for those who didn’t bring their dogs to work? 80 percent said dogs didn’t hamper their productivity, while 25 percent said the dogs actually helped productivity.

In fact, many study participants pointed out that the dogs enhanced communication, bringing together those with and without pets, as well as employees who usually didn’t interact. This fact is backed up by another study at Central Michigan University, which found that dogs in the workplace led to higher levels of collaboration, trust, cohesion and even ethical behavior.

Obviously, there are drawbacks to having pets in the office. Some people have allergies. Others just don’t like animals. Nobody likes to have their office turned into a pet toilet. And could you imagine going to the boss and saying “my dog ate my homework” – and mean it?

Here are some tips for making it work:

Break it in slowly. You don’t want to open the flood gates to 101 Dalmatians on the first day. Start with a trial period – a couple days per week at half days instead of full days.

Clearly define the rules. Where are pets permitted? Are leashes required? Where should pets eat? Answer any potential questions or controversies in a formal, written policy.

Exercise pets before work. Take them for a nice, long walk or play with them so they burn some energy before they get to the office.

Require proof of good health. Proof of shots, vaccinations and up-to-date checkups should be mandatory.

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