dog sitting on office table

Most pet owners miss their cats or dogs while at work, and look forward to seeing them at the end of a long laborious day. Imagine if your company had a bring-pets-to-work kind of policy.  Would that help improve production or would it be nothing more than a distraction?  We know that scientific studies show that being around animals, watching them play, interacting with them, and petting them all benefit humans and lift the general mood.  Therefore it does not seem entirely unreasonable to suppose that the presence of a dog or cat in a workplace could be a good thing.

Pets boost team spirit, morale and camaraderie.  You don’t get to choose who you work with, meaning most people have a co-worker or two that they really struggle to be around. (Anyone remember Dwight’s constant reference to his desk-buddy Jim as his “worst enemy” in the hit show The Office?) Just think of how people might have an easier time putting aside their differences, if they both bond over mutual appreciation of that little black lab visiting in the break room.  People might even team up to take the pup on walks for their lunch break, which would build stronger bonds between co-workers. Sometimes team-building exercises feel contrived, forced, and cheesy, but enthusiasm about animals is authentic and generally universal.

Dogs and cats reduce stress. Domestic pets are known to improve the lifestyle of their owner and boost their happiness and feelings of peace and self-worth.  Would these same feelings transfer over if the pet owner were allowed a “bring your pup to work day?” One 2012 study showed that stress levels at work drop significantly when individuals are environed with a pet they love. (This study came from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management; which ought to be deemed a true authority on the subject!)

Pets make the work atmosphere more pleasant. You know what people who like being at their job do? They stay longer, or are willing to push through that extra hour to finish a project they started, just because they don’t dislike being at work. When an adorable little pup or a comforting cat are close by, what may have been a tense or high-pressure environment becomes much more homey and appealing.  The result of keeping a pet on the premise might bring longer hours from employees, and therefore greater productivity long term. (Research conducted in 2008 shows that companies who keep a pet around have fewer cases of “sick days” and “absenteeism” than companies who do not.)

In some cases, pets already are allowed! Because of disability discrimination laws, there are some people who require a guide dog to accompany them to work, or help them complete their tasks. In situations like these, a dog might have to go to work with their owner. Granted, special needs-trained dogs are more highly equipped and better behaved than other animals, but it still proves that having an even-tempered animal on the premises might not create any problems at all.

Potential Downsides

If someone suffered from pet allergies, or had a deep fear of dogs or cats, pets in the workplace could pose a major disruption. If the dog or cat started requiring attention that distracted workers from their regular tasks, or kept them away from their desks, etc. then it would become a worrisome scenario for employers. Additionally, the liability would be another factor to weigh, if God forbid, anyone were to be bitten or hurt. That could mean a monstrous lawsuit for the company to deal with.

However, we still believe if the animal were responsible and well-trained, and the boundaries around play time and pet-care were clearly established and adhered to, then having a dog or cat around the office could be a serious benefit.

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