What It's Like To Bring Your Dog To Work - Advantages, Disadvantages, and Yuna's Experiences
Many companies boast that their dog-friendly policies inject positivity and lighten the mood in the office. But just as easily as there are obvious advantages, there are clear disadvantages too. Let’s shed some light on both sides of this issue.
October 24th, 2018
There are many full-time office workers out there who are foreign to the idea of bringing dogs to work. Dog-friendly offices are still relatively uncommon, but the trend is on the rise: according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2018 report, 9% of survey responders said that pets were allowed in their offices, up from 4% in 2014.
Many companies boast that their dog-friendly policies inject positivity and lighten the mood in the office. In the corporate world where everything is fast-paced and deadlines are unforgiving, having a puppy in the office can really relieve stress.
If you’re a dog person like myself, you’ll feel right at home in these work environments. Many employees cite the dog-friendly culture of their company as one of the key reasons they love working there.
And many people who love dogs but don’t have the bandwidth to care for one can get their daily dog fix just by going to work!
But there’s a flip side too. Dogs are naturally curious and can get themselves into a lot of trouble—how do companies cope with the risk of office destruction? What if there are employees who aren’t into dogs?
Having brought Yuna to work for a month now, I’d love to shed some light on this topic.
Advantages Of A Dog-Friendly Office
If you like dogs, you hardly need me to list these out. Just the fact that dogs are roaming free for your well-being and entertainment is enough of an advantage.
But there are so many more advantages I never thought of initially that you may have missed too. Maybe you can use these to jab at the non-believers.
Dogs Increase Workplace Productivity.
At many companies, both employers and employees agree that pets in the workplace do wonders for productivity.
I do not think it is a direct link—rather, dogs increase workplace happiness. This then translates to heightened productivity indirectly. Dogs act as a natural healthy distraction to enable workers to take breaks from tasks, allowing their minds to reset.
It’s difficult to quantify productivity, but get this figure—in the UK, around 11.7 million working days are lost each year due to stress, anxiety, and depression. You can be sure that having dogs in the workplace can significantly improve company morale and cut down on that lost time.
Dogs Promote Social Interactions
You don’t need to run complicated experiments or conduct extensive research to know that dogs in the office will naturally encourage social interactions.
Dogs are naturally cute, happy, and curious. They’ll provide a good reason to converse with colleagues, and overall friendliness in the office will increase.
Dog Perks Make Pet Owners Less Stressful
Maybe you just got a dog, or you know your dog is prone to irrational behaviors while you’re away. Having to worry about what your dog is up to at home while you’re in the office for eight hours is something you shouldn’t have to deal with.
Apart from just being able to supervise your dog, you’ll be able to ensure your dog gets some activity and interactions while at the workplace. Maybe you walk to work, in which case that might be enough daily exercise for your dog already. You won’t have to worry about walking your dog the moment you get home.
Dog Perks Imply Friendlier Workplace Culture
During Prime Day 2018, you may have encountered error pages while surfing for your favorite deals, in which case you were greeted by the dogs of Amazon.
Few things suggest strong company culture more than a dog-friendly office. Most people immediately associate dogs with easy-going vibes.
In addition, dogs can create long-lasting stories for a company. For Amazon, it all started with a corgi named Rufus (4), who played an important role in a lot of the company’s early operations! All the dogs of Amazon today all have Rufus to thank for planting the seeds of this unique culture.
Dogs Help Attract and Retain Employees
A dog-friendly culture instantly gets prospective employees hooked on a company. Many of these companies actively promote a healthy work-life balance, and dogs communicate a major step in that direction.
A company’s culture unifies employees. According to this article, around 90% of employees in pet-friendly offices feel connected to their company’s mission. The article goes on to point out that less than 65% of employees reported similar feelings in non-pet-friendly offices.
Not only that, the single biggest factor in employee retainment is the perks. Dog-friendly offices are still such a quirky yet coveted perk that many employees decide to stay loyal from this reason alone.
Disadvantages Of A Dog-Friendly Office
As easily as there are obvious advantages, there are clear disadvantages too. Not everyone is a dog person, and if you aren’t, having to spend your entire work day surrounded by them is not a fun experience.
Dogs Can Be Distracting
While they have been shown to increase productivity, dogs could just as easily cause the opposite. It’s not hard to imagine why.
Very often, dogs want to play. Very often, humans want to play with them.
Normally, if workers are pretty good at managing their time, then dogs are always a solid benefit to productivity. But otherwise, they are distractions waiting to happen, especially if they are not well-behaved.
Barking and whining dogs can demand response from owners, causing them to break focus unwillingly from important tasks. Additional attention is required to make sure pets stay out of trouble. Out of the eight hours in a typical workday, how much more time is spent distracted by a furry dog?
Dogs Can Cause Property Damage
Some dogs are large, and yet they don’t realize it. Other dogs are just flat-out unmindful of their surroundings. Or maybe they get too excited upon seeing new faces and new dogs.
This can be extremely costly in an office with lots of computers, monitors, and other equipment necessary for day-to-day operations. Not just the upfront cost of damage, but also the added pains of contacting IT, HR, your managers, and then explaining the issue to them…
Not to mention there are lots of wires laying around in a lot of offices. A common chew toy for many a curious dog. (Secure your electrical wires!)
If your pup gets caught in an unfortunate scenario he could also be severely injured, especially in the early days when they’re not familiar with the environment.
Or they could “damage” your coworker’s treats.
Dogs Can Cause Allergies And Workplace Division
This is perhaps the most serious. Not all people are dog people… because they are allergic to them!
This has far-reaching implications on not just the physical health of employees, but also on workplace culture as well.
A company may inadvertently turn their company into a divide between dog-lovers and otherwise, barring teamwork for good. Just as easily as dogs can attract employees, it can drive away those who aren’t so fond of the perk.
Dog owners may feel alienated bringing their dog, and at the same time non-dog enthusiasts may avoid speaking up.
Dogs Can Get Sick
And this can get other dogs in the workplace sick. Kennel cough is extremely, extremely contagious—spreads like wildfire.
Proof of vaccinations are required by most companies that adopt a dog-friendly policy, but it’s highly possible to miss something!
Dogs Can Create A Mess
All the horror stories of dogs making accidents at home apply at the workplace as well. Most dogs who accompany their owners to the workplace are properly potty-trained, but the probability of an accident is still there.
When it does strike, not only is it annoying to clean the carpet floors, but it’ll stink up the room… though you’ll all laugh about it later, it destroys productivity and kills morale in the short-term.
Yuna’s Experiences At Work
As mentioned before, Yuna is just passed her one month work anniversary. Many of my colleagues bring their dogs, but not nearly as often—I do so for convenience (it instantly takes care of two walks as I mentioned in the benefits above!) and because really surprised me with how well-behaved she is at work.
That wasn’t true in the beginning though. In a new environment, she felt distressed almost every time I left the desk, even if it was for a bathroom break or to fetch her some water. She would let out high-pitched bark cries, and my colleagues had to step in and respond.
This lasted consistently throughout the first week, and once she started realizing I came back every time, she got more comfortable with me leaving.
Most of the time at work, Yuna is just lying close to my desk. All the people in my immediate vicinity are good with dogs, but not everyone in the room is. So, being mindful of that, I keep Yuna leashed to my desk leg (which is incredibly strong) about half the time.
The other half of the time (usually when those uncomfortable with dogs are in meetings hehe!), she’s free to wander about the room. An active, friendly dog like Yuna will not appreciate being chained to a desk leg for hours and hours. I need to afford her time to stretch her legs and say hi to others.
It’s nice to see others brighten up and get their eyes off the screens to greet Yuna. She is so friendly towards humans that it’s hard not to smile back and say a few words to her. I’m glad my colleagues enjoy interacting with her as much as she does with them.
Usually, however, she will still just lay there peacefully. She is the type of dog who mirrors human energy—if you’re excited to play with her, she’ll get excited with you. Otherwise, most of the time she will just snooze.
Since Yuna is so well-behaved, I did not feel the need to buy her a crate at work. She has a bed underneath my desk, along with a blanket, a few toys, and a water bowl.
So far, we have not had any of the issues I reported above. My experiences bringing her to work has been hugely positive. I do need to tend to Yuna occasionally during work hours, and definitely need to take her out for a breather during my lunch break, but I enjoy that time walking her.
I think the only negative point so far is that Yuna seems to be getting bored at work. Watching humans type senseless things into a computer for eight hours is not so fun for her—and she won’t really engage with the toys unless she is engaged with by someone else.
The most magical thing so far is that Yuna seems to know when it’s time to call it a day. It’s as if she has this internal clock that sets off an alarm, making her reckless once it’s past 5:30 PM. She won’t fall asleep anymore, and sometimes lets out faint whines hinting it’s time to go. I’ll give her a huge thank you for caring about my work-life balance!
Overall, I am super thankful that my company Amazon has such a policy. It was a key factor in determining whether or not I was even going to adopt a dog in the first place. Yuna probably never would’ve happened otherwise.
We’d love to hear about your office stories if you have any!
Be sure to check out Yuna’s Instagram for more insights into her daily life and activities!