Meet Chance. This photo was taken of him lounging at my office in my 16 Boardwalk Plaza building by Libby Williams. I love this photo. It just captures his sweet spirit perfectly.
Chance is a rescue dog that our family adopted over 5 years ago. My son went to a sleep-over at his best friends house and we came home with a puppy. And that puppy (Second Chance was his name when we adopted him and we shortened it to Chance) has made our family better. Before Chance, if you had even hinted at our offices being pet friendly, I would have laughed and said “No way!” But having Chance in our lives changed my mind—and my heart. Chance is so full of love and kindness and gentleness that you can’t be around him and not be a better human being. Now when you come to our offices, you will find dog treats, dog bowls, dog beds, and dog toys and loving welcoming arms for our four-legged friends.
According to Fast Company, a pet friendly office can reduce stress, boost productivity, and boost morale. Here’s a few other things they have found to be true:
Bringing their pet to work means employees aren’t worrying about their pets sitting at home alone all day. This is particularly important for employees who have young puppies or senior dogs.
“We’ve had the sad instance where the dog is near its end of life, so being able to bring the dog here and have the opportunity to make sure that they’re not at home and in pain or suffering, but with continued companionship throughout the day is important,” says Keith Anderson, VP of Marketing at Ibex, who recently lost his senior dog and is thankful he had the opportunity to spend those last few special moments with him at the office.
Being able to bring pets to work also means employees may be willing to stay later to finish working on a project because they aren’t worrying about having to rush home to let the dog out.
Dogs are a social catalyst. Stopping by someone’s desk to give their dog a belly rub inevitably leads to striking up a conversation with their owner. A 2010 study from Central Michigan University revealed dogs in the workplace can lead to more trust between coworkers, resulting in greater collaboration.
A 2012 Virginia Commonwealth University study showed employees who bring dogs to work produced lower levels of cortisol (the hormone released during times of stress). The study was conducted at a dinnerware company in North Carolina, which “employs” 20 to 30 dogs a day.
As the workday progressed, those employees who had brought their dogs to work experienced a decline in stress levels of 11% while those who didn’t have a furry pal near them saw their stress levels rise by up to 70% by the end of the day.
Anderson agrees dogs provide some levity in the office. “If you’ve had a bad meeting or if you’re having a bad day and you run into that cute goldendoodle that pokes around the corner asking for a dog treat from you, your day is automatically better,” he says.
There’s a physiological reason for this phenomenon. Several studies have shown simply petting a dog can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.
According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, owning a pet can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels and increase opportunities for exercise and socialization, both of which have immense health benefits.
Anderson says the office dogs force owners to take a break. “It gives people a valid excuse to get out of the office and go for a walk,” he says.
Not only does regular exercise improve physical health, but going for a walk has been proven to deliver mental health benefits, allowing the brain to relax and boosting inspiration. A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found going for a walk can boost creative thinking by as much as 60% compared to sitting.
Ibex’s dogs have not only helped to boost internal morale, but have also helped the company bond with clients and venders who come to visit the office, helping to make the company seem more human and approachable.
Seeing so many dogs roaming the halls is an immediate conversation starter with guests. “They’re pretty psyched that there are dogs all over the office, unless they’re wearing a nice black suit and they run into a golden retriever,” laughs Anderson. “Either way, they remember their visit with us.”
If you decide to work with our tribe of Fierce people, be sure to bring your pet sometimes to the office. The only rule we have for our sweet canine friends is that they must not bark at our clients. Woof.