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Pet Perks: Office Pets Improve Productivity and Teamwork

Dogs have long been named as “man’s best friend” – and for good reason. Their loyalty, trust and overall dedication to their owner forms a bond that rivals even the truest of human companions. But besides being loving companions (and the best thing to grace this earth), dogs can also help you become a more productive, focused and dedicated team member in your organization – as long as you take them to work with you.

Pets Improve Creativity, Productivity and Teamwork

Pet-friendly workplaces aren’t a new concept. In fact, according to a 2015 Society for Human Resource Management survey, eight percent of U.S. offices have a pet policy (up five percent since 2013) and nine percent of offices offer some sort of pet health insurance as a benefit to their employees.

So why the increase in acceptance? Partly due to the fact that outside of anecdotal evidence, there has also been scientific evidence to prove that pets in the workplace can really benefit businesses. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) produced promising evidence from a survey that shows the perks of having pets in the office:

  • 75 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace makes people happier
  • 70 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace reduces stress
  • 47 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment
  • 37 million believe having pets in the workplace decreases absenteeism
  • 41 million believe having pets in the workplace helps co-workers get along better
  • 46 million believe having pets in the workplace creates a more productive work environment
  • 34 million people who bring their pets to the workplace work longer hours

Further evidence provided by an experiment done by Central Michigan University researcher Christopher Honts proved that test subjects who were assigned a dog during a group task showed significantly higher mutual trust, team bond and intimacy than those who worked without one.

And an often-cited Virginia Commonwealth University study found that employees who left their pets at home experienced higher stress than those who brought them to work. Further, the study found that employees who had their pets in the workplace showed an 11 percent drop in their stress levels by the end of the workday as compared to a 70 percent increase in stress for those who left their pets at home.

Those spiked stress levels were due in part to owners’ worrying about getting home quickly enough to avoid pet “accidents”. By bringing pets to work, employees can feel more at ease and more focused on their work, improving not only their stress levels, but their productivity levels as well.

So yes, science approves of your innate desire to have your pet come to work with you every day! But with pets comes the need for policies and boundaries in the workplace.

Pet Policy Must-Haves

Unfortunately (and I’m not sure how), some people aren’t into a sweet nuzzle by a puppy nose or a wagging tail passing by the breakroom. There are also those who have unfortunate allergies to dogs or cats that must be looked after as well. So, before your workplace opens its doors to your furry friends, it’s important to lay down the ground rules and prepare in advance:

  • First, if your office is renting from a larger building, it is important to consult with the building’s owner to confirm if pets are allowed (no one wants to get sued over a few hairballs).
  • Second, lay down some ground rules for what types of pet behavior are unacceptable at the workplace — it’s best to avoid a barking match during a conference call.
  • Third, make sure you’ve got the office necessities for your new four-legged co-workers. Things like self-cleaning litter boxes, pet water fountains, treats and flexibility for employees to walk their pets are a must.
  • Last, make sure you have some sort of “pet-free” zone for those who may be allergic or feel uncomfortable around pets.

Go ahead, feel free to email this article to your HR department, but remember, pet policies shouldn’t be taken lightly. Do thorough research to make sure your office is legally allowed to have pets in the office, and take the time to consider those who may not be so keen on the idea.

For those who are fortunate enough to have an office consider pet policies, the benefits for business are vast. With every wag of the tail and passing purr, your workplace could be happier, more productive, less stressed and more creative! Want to learn more productivity and teamwork tips? Check out the related articles below.

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