Does your heart sink as you leave the house in the morning headed to the office for another grueling day of meetings, deadlines, reports and emails? Does your furry best friend look forlorn as you wave goodbye?
Well, this Friday celebrates the human-canine bond by welcoming companion pets into the workplace. This event marks the 13th annual National Take Your Dog To Work Day, started in 1999 by the Pet Sitters International organization to promote the benefits of pet companionship and pet adoption. Supporting sponsors of this nationwide event include VPI Pet Insurance, DOGFANCY Magazine, and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Will your company be participating this year?
I am fortunate the trade association I work for in Herndon is pet-tolerant and allows dogs (and the occasional rabbit) in the office during the workday. Recently, several co-workers of mine adopted dogs from shelters and have been bringing their new family members into the office a few days a week to help ease them through their initial adjustment period. Because it has worked so well for both the employee and the dog, I would not be surprised if it became a fairly regular occurrence for them.
I have on occasion brought Flip and Tiki into work with me (only half a day), generally on a day when they have a vet appointment because it is near my office. This makes it very convenient, and allows me to work more and drive less.
But I must confess Flip has run down the hallway barking at our VP of Finance, and peed in the tropical indoor garden in our building's atrium. And Tiki has growled at co-workers who stop by my office door to say "Hi." Barring that, it's been a highly successful experience. On any given day, there may be two or three dogs in the office at the same time and there never seems to be a confrontation.
Research has shown pet owners tend to be healthier than those without, including: lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and less likely to have minor or serious health-related problems. In a recent nationwide survey, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association found the solution to easing work-related stress and enhancing office productivity was as simple as adding a pet to your work environment. Having pets in the office created a more productive work environment among 73 percent of the participating companies. In addition, 27 percent of the participating companies had a decreased absenteeism rate.
These insights and more were discovered when the APPMA surveyed companies nationwide that allow pets including dogs, cats, fish, small animals, reptiles and birds in the workplace. The survey revealed the many health-enhancing benefits of pet ownership — including lower stress levels, and improved overall emotional and physical health — also translate in a corporate environment. All of the companies polled agreed having pets in the workplace relaxes employees. Most of us already knew that. They relax us at home, why not at work? More interesting survey results include:
- 100 percent of companies polled would continue to allow pets in the office.
- 73 percent indicated it provided a more creative environment.
- 73 percent indicated improved interpersonal skills compared to 42 percent from management training classes.
- 96 percent reported positive work relations.
- 58 percent of employees with pets in the office worked late.
- the majority of companies with pets in the office have 25 percent or fewer employees who smoke.
With many companies being forced to cut back on employee benefits and incentives due to the economy, offering a pet-friendly workplace is definitely a perk for many employees. Some companies even go so far as to provide water stations, poop bags, toys and pet treats for their employees' companions. It all adds up to happier employees and a better work environment.
If your company is not yet savvy to the many benefits, or rushing to open its doors to your furry companions, here are a few things you can do to help move them in the right direction:
- Survey co-workers to get their input on pets in the office.
- Present your employer with a list of benefits and support from other employees.
- Post office pet-etiquette tips where all employees can see it (you can download these from the TYDTWD website).
- Offer to take pictures of employees with their pets for the company newsletter.
- Turn it into a positive PR event for your company, with photos, press release and perhaps a fundraiser (donated pet food, shelter supplies, or monetary donation presented by the company).
- Register to participate in the nationwide Take Your Dog To Work Day event.
So this Friday, don't think TGIF, think TYDTWD!
Is your company pet-friendly? If so, please send your best office pet photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.