‘Parents’ of fur babies often say that one of the things they miss the most when they are at work – is their dog. A recent survey by Wellness Natural Pet Food found that 51% of millennial pet owners would consider a career change for the opportunity to work in a dog-friendly office. Around 37%, meanwhile, noted that they would be willing to give up vacation time just to be with their pooch. The findings are a pretty powerful indicator of why forward thinking companies like Google and Amazon allow dogs at work. They bring many benefits that companies and employees alike can enjoy.
Dogs vs Stress
The American Psychological Association reports that stress is on the rise; around 44% of American are worried about issues like money, work, and the economy. Stress is not only a source of personal anguish, but also one that affects work performance. As noted in a study published in Work & Stress, chronic stress can result in attention difficulties, memory problems, and burnout. The good news is that dogs can benefit office workers by lowering stress. A study by scientists at the Virginia Commonwealth University found that dogs have a very positive impact on workers, reducing their stress and boosting their job satisfaction levels. Other studies have shown that the presence of dogs can lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate.
Dogs and Improved Task Performance
A 2017 review showed that pets can boost task performance abilities. In one study, researchers assigned 48 participants with hypertension to either a pet or non-group area. All participants were given performance tasks to complete (e.g. calculations and speaking) before they were assigned to one of the groups. Six months down the line, researchers noted that subjects who had enjoyed the company of a pet showed significantly improved task performance. They also had lower heart rates and blood pressure while carrying out these tasks.
Canines Boost Teamwork
The crucial spark of motivation can be hard to find in teams that rely solely on individual members’ technical skills. Social interaction is therefore seen as an important part of teamwork and as a way of buffering stressful situations. Studies have shown that dogs help boost communication between team workers, often functioning as a reason to engage in a friendly chat or to take even a few seconds or minutes to connect. This effect is intensified in dog-friendly work spaces, with dog health and welfare being an important point in common for workers who may have very disparate skills and interests.
Events like Take Your Dog to Work Day (taking place on June 21, 2019) seek to increase Americans’ awareness of the many health and performance enhancing effects that dogs at the office can have. From providing companionship to help buffer stress and anxiety, dogs are also a good excuse to stay active throughout the day. When you have your dog at work, you are almost forced to do something you might never do otherwise – head outside to a calming green area for an energetic walk and a little relaxation. If you have a co-worker who loves your dog, ask them to come along. They too could probably use a little movement in the company of the best loved member of the office (hint: it’s the furry friend walking with both of you).