Sit. Stay. Reduce Stress.
Business has gone to the dogs. Literally! Recent years have seen an evident rise in attendance from some furry, four-legged friends at the office. Big brands like Build-A-Bear, Ben & Jerry’s, Free People and Amazon have been adopting dog-friendly workplace policies for years as benefits of bringing man’s best friend to work continues to outweigh any plausible doubts. Perhaps the most notable name to approve corporate canine companions is search engine giant, Google. Google is seen by many as providing one of the most employee-friendly environments on the planet. A perception only furthered by their open arm policy on puppies.
So what’s the big deal? Why all of this barking about bringing Rex to hang next to your desk? It’s more than just a fringe benefit for the “dog people” of the working world. Employers are seeing sufficient positive results since permitting pooches on office property. In fact, a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University concluded the effects of pet-friendly policies to be of chemical proportions. Their findings offer evidence that employees who participate in bringing their pups to work produce significantly smaller amounts of cortisol, the stress-causing hormone. While stress levels dropped approximately 11 percent for those enjoying the company of dogs during the workday, people sans pooches experienced an astounding increase in its presence at an adverse rate of 70 percent. On the other side of the chemical spectrum, pet interaction yields elevated levels of serotonin in humans. Meaning, your office might not need a Feng Shui remodel. It could, however, get a good dose of good vibes simply by adding the presence of puppies.
This should not come as a shock. The use of dogs as therapeutic aides has been proven effective in even the most sensitive environments. From Alzheimer’s and asthma to an overall boost in human vitality, these pets provide positive influence to a wide range of ailments, making it only natural to assume that their paws pose no threat to the office environment.
As the advertising industry runs high with deadlines, expectations and emotions, an agency serves as the perfect breeding ground for stress. That is probably why agencies worldwide are jumping on the doggy bandwagon, giving “creatives” and account service sides alike the opportunity to benefit from adding animals to agency life. It’s been found that you can immediately lower stress by simply petting a pup, a luxury made readily available at arms length in a dog-friendly office. But the buck doesn’t stop at stress relief. Keeping your pups close can also promote creativity. And what better place to boost out-of-the-box brilliance than an ad agency?
These tail-wagging brand ambassadors help to build trust and camaraderie amongst colleagues. They provide the perfect atmosphere conducive to creativity and collaboration and increase employee morale while cultivating something your average ropes course would have trouble with, affection and emotion.
A little puppy playtime in the daytime has shown to foster the release of inhibitions. Add that notion to the ad world and an Art Director with a design block can finally find relief in a fun game of fetch to help regain momentum. Just the act of playing with animals helps the brain focus by keeping you in the moment, thus alleviating worries about approaching deadlines or dead end designing.
Employees hard at work might even forget to give themselves a bathroom break by refusing to break concentration, but that cute fuzzy face can’t hold it in all day. Fido at your side means you have no choice but to take a well-deserved walk away from your monitor. You’ll get the exercise you need to remain attentive and effective and a sometimes-required reminder to take care of your own needs, as well.
While some would argue that the allowance of dogs in the office would cause a distraction, those partaking plead the opposite. Employees agree that their canines are helping them concentrate, and improving their focus at work. Think about how much more work you could do if your home-alone pup was no longer an internal issue causing you to pause with worry. Add the intermittent “brain breaks” you’ll get from giving a wagging tail little walks throughout the day, and you’re working towards reaching optimal efficiency coupled with high-level attention to detail, all because you took your terrier to work.
Before you get carried away with worries of offending clients and being frowned upon by allowing such formidable four-legged guests, try to remember the last time you couldn’t resist the urge to pet someone else’s puppy. Pretend the anti-dog person (not to be confused with a cat person) does not exist. Dogs encourage socialization among humans. They give common ground to two seemingly opposite people who know nothing about each other. To put it simply, people bond over pets and that’s good for business.
Incorporating this office-wide offering to your team should not, however, come without a set of rules or guidelines to ensure that everyone enjoys the benefits. For instance, all participants should be required to sign a release form and/or provide proof of insurance for their animals. Dogs should be up-to-date with vaccinations, be potty-trained and overall well-behaved canines with owners taking fully responsibility for any cleanup required on office property.
Both Google and Amazon embrace a pet-friendly workplace to keep employees happy, and happy employees make the best employees. If keeping people happy isn’t enough to persuade your inner animal lover, remember that allowing dogs to join the rat race is a scientifically proven, low-cost, high-benefit solution to an often-chaotic work environment. Rewards of adopting an “all dogs go to work” attitude could range from lower turnover to increased earnings from improved client acquisition, satisfaction and retention, making Fido more than just one man’s best friend.