It’s Monday morning (again) but everyone in the office is smiling as they are greeted with a few sniffs, and maybe an excitable lick or two. Thankfully, this is an acceptable (and very typical) form of good morning by Ronnie, our London office dog and Barketing Assistant.
In the UK, just under 60% of people own a pet, with dog ownership specifically peaking amongst millennials (42%). This generation is also most likely to spend money on keeping their canines in line with the latest fashion trends such as raincoats and floral shirts. Millennials would even cut back spending on themselves rather than their dogs.
Research by the University of Calgary found that for younger generations, owning a dog is part of their identity, and something that they grew up with. According to the study, dog ownership also allows them to add structure and stability to their lives and overall make better decisions as they have to take their dogs into consideration. For example, having to get up early and implementing a routine around walking their dogs, or coming home at a reasonable time so that the dog is not left alone for too long.
However, the study also found that there were a series of challenges associated with dog ownership. Some participants had been unable to attend certain events due to having a dog, and others faced problems with finding the time or someone to help with dog walking or pet-sitting.
Allowing people to bring their furry friends to the office with them alleviates many of these stresses and challenges. But does an office pet also benefit the wider office team?
One of the most well known studies on the impact of dogs in the workplace, carried out by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), highlighted a range of benefits for employees:
Fewer Ruff Days
The study reported that dog owners felt lower stress levels throughout the day as a result of having their pooch by their side, as did their co-workers who were positively affected by just the presence of a dog. According to the Telegraph, patting and stroking a dog reduces blood pressure, thus changing your physiological state into a more relaxed one.
By taking the dog out for walks, employees are also made to take regular breaks and get fresh air – something that can often be overlooked. Stepping away from your desk throughout the day can increase productivity and reduce stress.
Our Manchester office is home to Chewie, International Pawperations Assistant who is described by the team as playful and affectionate. Emily Boardman, one of our Cognitive Scientists, says that “taking five minutes to spend time with him is a great way to take a break and to regain focus.” Ted Evloyias, Junior Business Psychologist, agrees that having Chewie around is one of the best stress relievers and often makes the team laugh!
With the World Health Organisation (WHO) including burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” to their latest revision of the International Classification of Diseases, it is now more important than ever that companies take steps to reduce stress in the workplace. Perhaps opening the doors to dogs could be a small change to help with this?
A Happier Pack
Pets are known to enhance social atmospheres by encouraging conversations, even amongst strangers, and the study by VCU also suggested that dogs can help to facilitate new working relationships. As dogs allow for these natural conversations and interactions, employees or teams that may not interact with each other can come together and bond over the dog.
This can also make an excellent ice breaker for any new employees!
Attracting Top Dogs
A ‘dogs at work’ policy is seen as an employee perk by 50% of people – not including those who own a dog who class an absence of such a policy as a deal breaker. With full-time workers being the most likely to own a pet, and the love that younger generations have for their pups, this can be an excellent way to attract both experienced candidates and those kick starting their careers.
Such policies can also aid with retention as 82% feel a greater loyalty to their company as a result of their company’s pet-friendly policy.
David Cuthbertson, our Global Account Director and proud owner of Ronnie, says “Being able to bring Ronnie to work makes my life a whole lot easier. He loves the office and brightens up everyone’s day without fail. Being able to grab the chance to go outside every few hours also breaks up work and helps for creative thought. Kudos to WeWork and Arctic Shores!”
But what about the cat people?
Of course, not everyone has a love for dogs. Companies who are welcoming them should take measures to ensure that the comfort and well-being of their staff is a priority.
If someone has a fear or allergies, the dog should be kept in a designated area of the office – on a leash or behind a baby gate – or only be in the office for a few days of the working week.
Generally, for the comfort of all staff as a whole, dogs should be well-behaved and trained to avoid any accidents and distractions, such as barking or jumping up on people. Dogs who are fearful or nervous, such as rescue dogs, may not adapt to an office environment so this needs to be taken into consideration as well.
Are you sniffing out a dog friendly workplace?
At Barktic Shores, we love our office dogs who are reducing stress and increasing happiness in both our London office and Manchester HQ. Take a look at our latest openings here!