In 2015, the United States spent over 60 Billion dollars on their pets! The pet trend is going global, with many countries across the world reporting increased numbers of household pets and pet-related purchases. With more and more pets in the home, I started to wonder, what about pets in the office?
It turns out, I am not the only one interested in bring their furry friends to work.
Last month, in celebration of our four-legged friends, the United States, Canada, Australia, and United Kingdom participated in the cutest, 18 year old tradition of Take your Dog to Work Day (TYDTWD). On June 24th, offices across the world opened their doors (and hearts) to employees’ pooch pals. The day came at the end of Take your Pet to Work Week celebrating all pet family members.
What could be more fun than petting animals on coffee breaks and between meetings? Basically, nothing. However, it turns out that pets in the office provide more than just a cuteness overload at work. There are several REAL benefits to office pets/bring your pet to work days. To help your superiors see the light on this important issue, I have compiled a list of reasons to consider an office pet or bring your pet work days. Here we go!
Improve employees' health. Studies show that pet ownership can affect a number of aspects of our health. Pet owners visit the doctor less frequently, saving the U.S. over 11 million dollars in healthcare spending annually. Pet ownership alleviates stress and depression, reduces obesity rates, and improves heart health by lowering blood pressure. Petting a dog releases “happiness” hormones like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin while bringing cortisol, the “stress” hormone, levels down. Improved health means happier employees and fewer sick days.
- Boost productivity. Taking a quick, 10-15 minute break every hour or so has proven the most efficient, productive way for humans to work. An office pet or pet-friendly office is far more likely to encourage these productivity enhancing breaks. A quick trip around the block with your pooch or a few minutes petting a kitten can recharge employees. For many employees, the ability to have their pet with them means less worry about what’s happening at home and less concern about staying later at the office.
- Encourage a positive office environment. Research shows that the simple presence of a pet boosts positive social interaction and increases helping behaviour. Pets can help break the ice between strangers and reduce tension between team members. A dog-friendly office promotes communication, cooperation and friendship between coworkers. And a team that gets along is more likely to enjoy coming in to work.
- Attract employees and customers who share the same pet-friendly values. Pet-related spending is up all across the world. More and more people everywhere are embracing life with four-legged family members. An office pet or bring-your-pet-to-work policy can attract new talent and customers who share your company’s values. Etsy, “the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace” has dog-friendly offices in New York, London and Dublin. Sarah Starpoli, Etsy's manager of culture and engagement tells CNBC “People want it. People know about it when they come in and are hired”. I couldn’t agree more!
- Improve pets’ health. Not to be overlooked, we can help our pets stay healthy with more socialization and physical activity. With the increase in importance of pet-family members, it’s crucial to keep them happy and healthy. Allowing pets in the office gives our animal friends more frequent walks and less days spent alone.
What started out as “Take Your Dog to Work Day” turned “Take Your Pet to Work Week” has sparked a rise in pet-friendly offices. A survey conducted in 2015 shows 8% of American workplaces allow pets in the office, up from 5% in 2013. Employers are opening their office doors to furry family members to create better workplace environments fuelled by happier and healthier employees. With all the proven benefits, it might be time for your company to consider how an office pet could positively impact life in the workplace.