Top tips for creating a dog friendly office18 January 2021
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2020 really was the year of the dog. From empty rescue kennels to soaring puppy prices, the UK quickly saw lockdown as the perfect opportunity to bring a four legged friend into their household.
With this in mind, it’s highly likely that a number of your employees will have welcomed the joy and companionship of a new dog into their home. And the prospect of leaving them once offices reopen may be adding to already existing anxiety about returning to the workplace.
So is now the time to open your office doors to dogs? We look at the top ten reasons why this could be the best thing you can do for your employees and your business in 2021.
Ten benefits dogs will bring to your workplace
It’s no secret that many of us feel good after spending time with our own, or someone else’s, dog. But have you ever wondered why? There’s a very good reason. Research shows that just 10 to 15 minutes stroking and / or interacting with a dog can lower our heart rate and blood pressure by as much as 10%, resulting in lower levels of anxiety and promoting feelings of relaxation.
What’s more, being around dogs can boost the release of what are commonly known as ‘happy hormones’; serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. 88% of dog owners say that they feel happier and have a better quality of life because of these pets and almost 30% admit that having a dog has helped them overcome depression and loneliness. The even better news is that allowing employee dog owners to bring their pooch into the office can also transfer these benefits to those employees who don’t own their own dog.
Dogs lower levels of stress
A shocking 2020 study found that a staggering 79% of British adults in employment commonly experience work-related stress. Even low levels of stress can lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, alongside increasing our risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Allowing people to interact with dogs for short periods during their working day has been shown to significantly reduce levels of cortisol, a major stress hormone.
Dogs help us to increase our levels of physical activity.
It’s all too easy for us to sit at our desk for prolonged periods of time without taking a break. And while you might think this results in higher levels of productivity, the opposite is actually true as people experience fatigue, lack of concentration and even burnout.
Allowing employees to bring their dog into the office forces them to take breaks and get some fresh air during their lunch break, aiding both their physical and mental health.
Dogs increase levels of employee engagement
With Gallup uncovering that teams who score in the top 20% in engagement levels realise a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 59% reduction in staff turnover, it goes without saying that improving levels of engagement should be a priority for every organisation.
So with 91% of employees who work for a pet friendly company reporting that they feel engaged with their work versus 65% of those who work in non-pet friendly workplaces, allowing dogs in your office will support your organisation far beyond engagement.
Pet friendly companies have also be found to see a staggering 80% increase in those people reporting that they feel their work is rewarding and exciting (HABRI).
Dogs encourage collaboration and teamwork
When Nestle first opened their doors to dogs, they found that they ‘encouraged interaction and socialisation between employees who may not have crossed paths otherwise’.
With emails being our primary form of communication within the workplace, it is all too easy for us to hide behind our screens. Yet at the same time, as human beings we crave connection with others and having a good relationship with our colleagues is consistently rated as a major factor for job satisfaction. Dogs make it easy for us to start up a conversation with colleagues who we might not know, helping us to form those sought after connections.
At the same time, studies have shown that the presence of a dog while working on a team project can enhance cohesion and promote more positive feelings towards our peers.
Dogs increase levels of trust among peers
Researchers at Central Michigan University found that colleagues who completed a project in the presence of a dog were more likely to rank their peers higher with regards to trust than those who completed the same project but without a dog present.
Fostering a culture where there are high levels of trust makes people feel free to communicate and express their ideas, leading to higher levels of creativity and innovation.
Dogs helps organisations attract and retain the best people
Every organisation wants to attract and retain the best people, and dogs have been shown to help companies do just that.
HABRI found that 88% of employees who work for a pet friendly company plan to stay with their company for the next twelve months versus 73% who work in non-pet friendly companies. And it’s not just the physical presence of dogs being in the office that makes the difference, it’s the way that this improves employees perceptions of the company they work for. In the same study, pet friendly companies realised a 72% increase in employees reporting that they feel their place of work supports their mental wellbeing and a 54% increase in those stating that their organisation supports their physical health and wellbeing.
Not only are people more likely to stay at a pet friendly company but they’re also 73% more likely to recommend their place of employment to others. And a 2019 survey found that almost half of 18 to 24 year olds admit they would be more likely to apply for a job that allowed dogs in the office.
Dogs reduce sickness absence and increase presenteeism
If you consider the benefits that we’ve already covered, it goes without saying that allowing dogs in your office could significantly reduce levels of sickness absence and increase presenteeism.
With improved mental and physical wellbeing, lower levels of stress, improved relationships and high levels of engagement, it’s easy to see why dog friendly offices often report lower levels of sickness absence and higher levels of presenteeism.
Dogs improve performance
A 2002 study measured performance by asking people to complete a mental-arithmetic task; one group with a pet present, the other without. The study showed that in the conditions where a dog was present, the group made fewer errors that those in the group without the dog.
Lower levels of stress and anxiety, coupled with higher levels of wellbeing are credited for dog’s ability to improve our performance.
Dogs increase productivity
Professor Paul Zak, neuro-economics professor at Claremont Graduate University in California states that “it is not just nice or fun to have dogs at work, it is an effective way to improve productivity and profits”.
When people are happy, they are more productive; in fact an extensive study by Oxford University found that workers are 13% more productive when they’re happy. So dogs really could be the answer to improving your bottom line!
If you are ready to realise the benefits of allowing dogs into your workplace but don’t know where to start, our complete dog friendly office toolkit will provide you with everything you need to safely and seamlessly open your office doors to dogs. Available to purchase here: https://www.momenttopaws.co.uk/product/dog-friendly-office-pack/