5 benefits of having a dog-friendly workplace

Mia Garbagnati, Web Developer at Looker

Apr 26, 2019

I love dogs. I think about my dogs constantly. I greet dogs when I walk by them more comfortably than I greet their owners. When talking about any dog, I am likely to give them the honorific title “Sweet baby [name].” Basically, I am obsessed with dogs.

Having dogs allowed in the office is truly an awesome privilege, but not everyone shares my overwhelming enthusiasm for our canine friends — dogs can be messy and a little distracting. In some of our Looker offices, we have a bring your dog to work policy that ensures a comfortable environment for everyone. Pet owners are instructed to be responsible for their dog (and their dog’s messes), keep to designated dog-friendly parts of the office, and to be considerate and respectful towards their co-workers. With these rules in place, working in a dog-friendly workplace has some great benefits for employees...

1. Improves health and morale

Pets have been shown to have a positive effect on their owner's well-being. On a physical level, dogs are good for your heart (aww). Dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, partly because of the increased physical activity that comes with having a dog. On a psychological level, pets provide companionship and can help with depression and anxiety by improving socialization and self-worth. And studies have shown that even if you don’t own a dog, simply petting one can lower a person's blood pressure.

2. Fosters collaboration

In a study conducted by the Central Michigan University, having dogs present in the workplace was found to help improve communication and cooperation. For the study, participants were broken into small groups and given random tasks, some with a dog present in the room and others without. Regardless of performance or the given task, groups with a dog present were found to be more cooperative and trusting of their group members and appeared to be more comfortable with each other. Steve Colarelli, lead author of the study, calls dogs a "social lubricant" — they provide an easy way to break the ice and give us something to bond over.

3. Reduces stress

April is ‘Stress Awareness Month’, but that doesn’t mean dealing with stress is only important one month out of the year. A study by Virginia Commonwealth University revealed that, while there was little difference in baseline stress levels, over the course of a day those that brought their dogs to work had reduced stress, as opposed to increased stress felt by those without dogs. Though the reason behind this is unclear, some theories suggest that dogs can help the body produce oxytocin, a hormone that relieves stress, while also lowering the body’s levels of cortisol, a hormone that is produced by stress.

In addition, the Mayo Clinic says that laughter is a great way to relieve stress and reduce tension. If you’re a dog owner or just enjoy the company of a furry friend, you know that — simply put — dogs are silly and can be the source of many laughs throughout the day.

4. Drives productivity and creativity

With improved communication and less stress, it’s no surprise that dogs can boost productivity and creativity. The Journal of Research in Personality conducted a study in which participants came up with goals and measured how they felt about attaining them. Some participants had their pet near, some thought about their pet during the experiment, and others were part of a control group. The result? The first two groups did better in not only listing their goals, but in having the confidence required when it came to achieving them.

Productivity is greatly impacted by the amount of time you take to step away from your desk. Spending too much time focused on a project can inhibit your ability to get work done, but taking small breaks has been shown to stimulate the brain and increase productivity. By bringing a dog to work, you’re guaranteed — by nature — to go on walks and step out of the office during the day, which Stanford University says can improve creative inspiration.

5. Attracts talent

79% of Human Resource decision makers surveyed by Banfield Pet Hospital said pet-friendly workplace policies were often proactively discussed as a recruitment tool. Additionally, 65% said they were often asked about pet policies during the interview process. The flexibility of a pet-friendly office gives recruiters a competitive edge in attracting top talent, especially among millennials. And with Millennials overtaking baby boomers in pet ownership and "pet parenting" on the rise, it's no surprise that the comfort of having one's dog close by during work hours is a huge selling point when it comes to job hunting.

Four-legged Lookers

All that considered, it is with great enthusiasm that I’d like to introduce you to some of our office pups here at Looker!

Monty is a Field Spaniel which is (sadly) a rare breed. Monty's favourite time of year is Autumn because there is an abundance of leaves and sticks to chase and play with. He loves making new friends — whether they like it or not — and has been told on multiple occasions that he is the happiest and most handsome dog in London! Three of Monty's siblings are competing at Crufts this year, however, Monty was unable to attend due to work commitments at Looker. Monty loves cuddling up to a David Attenborough documentary (penguins are a favourite) and long walks along the beach.

Cash is a lab/husky/pit mix — aka, a totally wonderful mutt. His happy place is when he’s either running at full speed directly into the ocean or being completely passed out on the couch. He knows only two speeds really, 0 or 1000mph. His signature move when in play mode is a 360* spinning kick, which has been known to send many an unexpecting victim flying. He loves belly rubs, beef jerky and chasing cats whilst being simultaneously outsmarted every single time.

Chewie is a Border Collie with a dash of Wookie. Although he's now a beach boy, Chewie is very country at heart, being born on a Calaveras County farm. His love for open spaces hasn’t faded away, as he's grown to enjoy hikes, long walks on the beach, and most importantly, running as fast as possible after tennis balls. He enjoys submitting to any and every dog he meets followed by a playful game of "catch me if you can!"

Atlas is a Boston Terrier puppy whose mother was rescued from the Paradise, CA wildfire. He swapped his rural west-coast life for the big city as soon as he was old enough. Atlas lives in NYC where he regularly turns heads and melts hearts as he prances down the sidewalk. He loves getting to work and play with all the other dogs at Looker. He starts the day with a lap of the office, stopping by all the desks of all the Lookers who keep treats on their desks (he knows who the softies are), followed by a nap on his favorite conference room chair.

First things first, Walter is not a dog; he is a 90 year old man trapped in a quadrupedal body with the swagger and the muscular glutes of a 20-something frat star. Don't let his chill demeanor fool you though, the minute he sees a ball he's the fastest dog in the park — just don't expect to get it back without a fight and a fair amount of slobber. He's also become an expert at tricking his funcle into taking him to the dog park at all hours of the day and night. Walter is the best snuggler known to man and fully intends on sleeping under the covers with his head on the pillow like the human that he is.

Calais is a 3.5 year old Golden Retriever and Lab mix (mostly golden). Calais was originally meant to be a service dog for Canine Companions for Independence, or CCI. That didn't work out, so she moved to the big city and started her career in tech. She is the Chief Pawperating Officer of the Looker San Francisco office and loves coming to work because everyone gives her scratches and her dad gives her a lot of treats for being a good girl. She has 7 brothers but no sisters!

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