The Office Dog; How bringing dogs to work can really improve your business.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that dogs in the workplace can significantly improve employee wellbeing, productivity and overall performance. With this in mind and the recent addition of Lola, our 17-week-old English Bulldog puppy to the office we decided to ‘paws’ for thought and delve a little deeper into the world of The Office Dog to see what all the fuss was about.

Companies across the UK have been allowing staff to bring dogs to work for some time now but it’s not necessarily the businesses that you might expect that are leading the way. Dog charities and pet brand businesses started the trend back in the 90’s, as you can expect it was a seamless match with the brands’ love for animals and it made for great PR. Since then hundreds of companies have followed suit including everything from the Health & Beauty industry’s finest to top IT software development businesses.

So, who’s promoting our four-legged friends in the office and how could bringing dogs to work help you? Companies like Nestle permitted its’ thousand-plus employee base (based at their London Head Office) to bring their dogs to work in 2014. Now with over 60 staff taking them up on the scheme what benefits can they expect to see? We looked at the stats and studies to find out and the results were quite interesting;

Unsurprisingly companies that allow their staff to bring dogs to work reported an overall improvement in staff wellbeing, morale and overall mood in the office. What was really interesting was the companies noticed a knock-on effect to productivity and profit. Basically, happier staff = more productivity. Now, while that’s nothing new, many of us in the recruitment industry can honestly say that staff wellbeing and happiness is up there as something we channel daily, in fact in such a candidate short and competitive recruiter market, it’s more important than ever to have a happy, loyal and invested team, productivity is usually a by-product of this.

Studies went on to discover that not only does bringing dogs to work help with team morale but it significantly reduces stress levels, meaning days off sick were reduced and staff turnover was also impacted and reduced as staff reported feeling happier at work and more valued. Some staff have also stated that having dogs in the office helped team bonding as dogs make great talking points and conversation starters. These individuals told how colleagues they’d never met would stop them to chat on lunch breaks and how some would offer to walk their dog for them in any downtime (what’s downtime in recruitment?) ? This was seen as not only a positive experience for reducing levels of stress (getting staff out in the fresh air at lunch) but also for internal networking, it was bringing together teams that would otherwise only communicate via phone or email. These studies also reported colleagues becoming friendlier and nicer towards each other, with staff trusting each other more after ‘bringing dogs to work’ schemes were introduced in their office.

So how might bringing dogs into the office improve your working day? Obviously, we appreciate this scheme isn’t going to suit every business, (I for one am not a huge fan of yappy dogs). No one wants to see puppies running around hospitals or pet hair in our lunchtime chicken and avocado salad, but with over 9% of employees across the UK and Ireland now being permitted to take their dog in the office, it’s definitely food for thought. You could adopt a scheme similar to Nestlé’s tried and tested method in which dogs are vetted before being allowed into the work place and have your team members complete a detailed questionnaire regarding their furry friend’s temperament, behaviours and habits (both in the office and at home) as well as have the relevant insurance and be vet checked regularly for worms and fleas before they will permit them on a trial basis (Think of it as a secondment for your pup.) but then all that sounds like hard work and a bit corporate.

If you’re a boutique, small business like us here at Ashley James Consulting, you simply train them to ‘toilet’ at the right time (and in the right place) not bite your staff, clients or candidates and to be respectful of when you’re taking interview feedback on the £200k biller with a new client…

Have you already got an ‘Office Dog’ or ‘Bring your Dog to Work’ scheme in place? It’s ‘National Bring your Dog to Work Day’ on the 24th June, which could be a great opportunity to trial something you’ve been toying with for a while and see if bringing dogs to work, works for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this and if this is something you already do please share photos of your canine-colleagues, top tips on how to make this work well and whether you think it’s helped your team morale.