I've always had pets around my house--dogs, cats, rats, chipmunks, parrots, canaries, snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs, and even an ant farm or two. You name it, I've had it. I think pets are great, and most of my friends do, too.

The only problem is most companies ban employees from bringing their pets into the office. This is a big mistake.

Scientists have found that the concentration of feel-good hormones that are chemically similar to oxytocin increase in people after just 30 minutes of positive interaction with a dog. In addition, researchers have discovered that the presence of a dog in the office leads people to have work together more collaboratively.

According to Sean Conlon, cofounder and CEO of PetBox, an online retailer of pet toys and other products, "The presence of dogs in the workplace can help foster your startup's success. There are upwards to a dozen dogs in the office on any given day--including my own Golden Retriever, Beau. I have observed numerous ways in which dogs can provide a competitive advantage."

Here are four ways that having pets in your office can lead to your success.

1. Relaxes the team

Face it--a busy office can be a stressful place to be for all concerned. Pets are the perfect antidote to the stress that most of us experience at work. According to researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Business, employees who bring a dog to the office experience less stress, and improved job satisfaction for all.

2. Increases connection and creativity

The presence of pets in the office sparks conversations among employees, increasing creativity and positive outcomes. In addition, having pets in the office--especially the CEO's office--makes for a less formal environment. According to marketing intelligence agency Mintel, almost half (47 percent) of pet owners believe that owning a pet is better for your social life than hanging out on online social networking sites.

3. Makes work fun

Pets make office life more spontaneous and fun. Says Sean Conlon, "Expect the unexpected. At our office, for instance, we have a German Shepard who is a regular 'guest.' She is known for running laps around the office, like a Greyhound, and when she does, the team cheers her on." According to Conlon, this results in highly effective team bonding, which yields all sorts of dividends for the company.

4. Creates a more inviting environment

When a customer, vendor, or employee walks into an office with well-behaved pets, they can't help but smile and feel more comfortable. They connect and feel more at home--building instant connections that will lead your company to success.

Of course, if you're going to invite pets into your office, you'll need to establish clear guidelines up front. Noisy and aggressive pets are out, as are pets that are messy or that create allergic reactions among your team. However, once you've got your guidelines set, you'll be ready to open up your office to your employees' pets, and enjoy the benefits of decreased stress, increased interpersonal connections and creativity--and success.

Published on: Nov 2, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.