General Guidance • October 5, 2018
Dogs In the Workplace – A Pawsitively Brilliant Idea?
Written by Jennifer Ormond
Kev is the proud owner of two beagles, mother and son, Tilly and Bobby whilst Alf has recently adopted a beagle puppy, Rocky. Beagles require a fair amount of exercise and attention and we are fortunate enough to be in a position to implement change at Employment Law Solutions. Our “legal beagles” are a feature of office life and are loved by the whole team, even if they do sometimes bark when we are advising clients.
It isn’t just us who are developing a new attitude to dogs in the workplace, in fact we seem to be somewhat behind the developing trend.
In 2015, Nestle became one of the first companies to have a dog friendly head quarters and encourages staff to bring their pets to work through their PAWS (Pets at Work) programme. Quite rightly so there are some stringent conditions and a probationary period of three months before a dog is granted their very own “Passpawt” to the office.
It isn’t just large companies who have adopted this type of policy, in fact many of our clients have done so. For smaller businesses, allowing dogs may simply enable them to balance their own work/life balance better and not having to worry about going home to walk the dogs at lunch etc.
In 2012, the Virginia Commonwealth University in USA, researched the effects that dogs in the workplace has on stress levels. The researchers discovered that those who brought their dogs to work felt significantly less stressed and there was an increase in fitness levels generally as staff were inclined to take breaks away from their desk and exercise the dogs.
Both the research and anecdotal reports show that there is an increase in positive exchanges between colleagues, particularly those who may not necessarily speak to one another. There is also an increase in the mental and physical health of the whole work force as colleagues often offer to take each dogs out for works on their own breaks when they haven’t brought their own with them, as a result their productivity, efficiency and fitness increased and stress levels reduced.
Further, psychologists often note that dogs can help lower stress levels, heart rate and blood pressure as well as making people seem more approachable and friendly.
There are of course some downsides, for example, a dog friendly office may affect recruitment if potential staff are afraid of or allergic to dogs. There is the inevitable risk of “accidents” in the work place and dogs not getting along with each other or barking during office hours, although in reality these challenges can be quite easily overcome.
A simple practical matter could be that you ensure that the office is deep cleaned more often to ensure a healthy work place and that all relevant risk assessments are carried out and updated regularly.
It is still advisable however, to double check your insurance policies and make sure that they are not invalidated by the presence of a dog in the work place and to ensure that any dog in the work place has the relevant insurances in place.
As dog lovers, we are slightly biased when it comes to dogs in the work place, but, it is hard to disagree with the research that has been carried out, there are some real benefits to having a dog friendly office.
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