Wondering what tech companies like Google, Amazon, a doctor’s office in Washington DC, and a china replacement company in North Carolina have in common? They all allow employees to bring their dogs to work.
And they are not alone: Almost one and a half million people in the US take their dogs to work every day.
Many workers returning to the office after a pandemic are putting pressure on their employers to allow them to bring their dog to work. They insist that being around their dog will help them cope with everyday stress and anxiety and create a more welcoming environment.
This is proven by the research.
According to a groundbreaking 2012 study published by the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, workers who took their dogs to work had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the day, regardless of how many stressful events occurred . The researchers also found that dogs tend to increase overall work ethic and lead to more open communication.
So what can you do to promote an open house policy regarding dogs in your own organization?
First, whether you are an employer or an employee, you should be aware that many companies have legitimate concerns about dogs in the workplace. Liability probably comes first: what if Fido or Fluffy bites another employee? Or worse, a customer or client?
While the law makes pet owners legally liable for any injuries caused by their pets, in today’s litigation environment, businesses and organizations are understandably suspicious of doing anything that could potentially result in legal action. Employers should speak to their insurer to make sure that their general liability insurance covers all acts caused by an animal in the workplace.
Then there is the subject of allergies. The fact is, for the most part, people are more likely to respond to dog hair or saliva than to dog hair. It goes without saying, however, that dogs should not be taken into the immediate vicinity of people with animal allergies. Owners also need to ensure their dog is bathed and brushed to remove excess hair and flakes of skin.
Also, keep in mind that some people are afraid of dogs. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their puppy is not allowed to contact people without first making sure that they are comfortable with a dog.
As an employee, take a look at other dog-friendly companies to find out what rules and regulations apply there, what problems they have encountered, and how the company has dealt with them. Some of the more sensible guidelines include that dogs must be clean, disease free, and house trained; that they are well socialized and not aggressive; and that owners must have current vaccinations against rabies and other diseases.
Sites like Pet Sitters International and Workable have some excellent guidelines for animals in the workplace that you can easily customize for your own workplace.
Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts at creating a pet-friendly environment are unsuccessful: Whether you’re trying to convince your boss or board of directors, just keep collecting facts to support the idea of allowing pets in the workplace, and sign up to others in the organization to support the idea.
And when all else fails and you simply cannot spend a day without your beloved companion by your side, consider working from home. Thanks to COVID, we’ve learned that employees can be just as productive at home as they are in the office. Plus, there is no one to complain about dog hair!
Joan Merriam lives in Nevada County with her golden retriever Joey, her Maine Coon cat Indy, and the lingering spirit of her beloved golden retriever Casey, after whose memory this column is named. You can reach Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re looking for a Golden, be sure to check out Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue.