I've been bringing my dog Gracie into our office since she was a puppy. Gracie is a four year old Goldendoodle and she serves in the role of a goodwill ambassador for our 400-plus-person company. As Gracie has matured from puppy to an adult dog she has been promoted to the role of Chief Happiness Officer.
While studies have demonstrated that office dogs can relieve stress, boost morale, and lead to a happier office environment, Gracie's presence and non-judgmental personality actually supports the life cycle of our business operations in ways that far exceed her compensation in kibble, treats, and a pet on the head from employees and visitors alike.
For instance, at the beginning of a business relationship, Gracie is a wonderful icebreaker. She's a friendly presence and a handy conversation starter. Office dogs are wonderful prompts to speak about a potential client's own office dog or pet. In this way Gracie helps humanize the company. Prospects see, quite rightly, that the way we positively interact with Gracie informs how we will work with a potential client.
Additional benefits of an office dog are realized in other areas of the business. Even during the most stressful meetings, or during the busiest days when we're shipping the greatest number of packages, the mood is instantly lightened when Gracie walks into the room. In fact, studies show that office dogs reduce hormonal stress levels that lead to a feeling of wellness. I see the calming effect occur during our peak holiday season when staff interacts with Gracie even for a few moments.
Just as with all successful projects, the benefits of having dogs in the office are only achieved with careful planning and diligent work. Office pets must be introduced into the new environment deliberately and over a period of time. When she was a puppy, Gracie could rarely last the full work day. As she has matured, Gracie spends the entire day at the office and is great at reminding me when it's time for a walk so that I can get in my steps -- a great way to force me to take a clarity break.
Of course, for any dog to visit the office, their vaccinations must be up to date. I've been scrupulous about setting a standard for Gracie and other visiting dogs to be regularly groomed and have their nails trimmed. Fortunately, a Goldendoodle like Gracie is hypoallergenic. But offices must be mindful of how employees can be impacted by the presence of animals. From this starting point, guidelines can be articulated around continual pet supervision, treats, and the expectation that our work comes first.
This is a list of my top five tips for you and your employees when considering opening your office doors to all the furry friends:
Make sure your breed of dog won't aggravate anyone's allergies.
Keep your dog groomed and their nails trimmed.
Set up clear rules and guidelines for employees to follow when interacting with office pets.
Make sure dogs in your office are properly socialized and are up to date on their shots.
Most importantly, encourage your employees to bring their dogs to the office and have fun with it!
While we now realize the benefits of having a crew of canines in the office, we didn't exactly get here intentionally. I initially brought Gracie to work because there was no one at home to spend time with her during the day. But what was a decision born from necessity turned out to be a great management decision that I hope to see more businesses adopt.