As our pets grow increasingly entwined in our day-to-day lives, more and more employers are allowing dogs in the workplace all the time. But is that a good idea? Yes, it is! And also, no, it’s not. There are pros and cons to having dogs at work. The pros will outweigh the cons, or vice versa, depending on each workplace’s particular circumstances. Read on for more on both sides of the coin.
PRO: LOWER STRESS
Most of us know by now that pet ownership reduces stress and improves health, but do the benefits extend to the workplace? According to science, they do. A 2012 Virginia Commonwealth University study demonstrated that employees with pets by their side on the job produced less cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. (Source)
PRO: INCREASED MORALE
Dogs create a friendly atmosphere. They give employees an excuse to converse and bond. Strangers often strike up conversations or friendships while walking their dogs or meeting at the dogpark. In the same way, dogs in the office can help foster camaraderie among workers. It can be hard to resist paying a friendly visit to someone else’s cubicle if they have a cute dog.
PRO: BETTER CONCENTRATION
Many dog owners hate leaving their dogs home, for a variety of reasons. They may feel the need to go home in the middle of the day to walk the dog or see to its other needs. This can create unwanted interruptions, and a stressed employee is an unhappy, unproductive employee. Allowing employees like this to bring their dogs to work solves that problem.
PRO: MORE PRODUCTIVITY
Less stress, high morale and a friendly atmosphere equal happy employees, and that’s just good for business. Happy employees do better work, and more of it. A 2008 American Pet Products Manufacturers Association study showed that companies allowing pets at the office had employees who work longer hours and are absent less often. (Source)
PRO: ATTRACTING THE RIGHT EMPLOYEES
Companies want to attract the best employees, and job seekers want job with companies where they’ll be happy. A pet-friendly policy is an important job benefit, just like a competitive salary or quality medical insurance. It can tell a prospective employee a lot about a company’s culture, and whether or not that employee could be happy working there.
CON: NOT EVERYONE IS A DOG PERSON
Some folks just don’t like dogs. They may even be afraid of dogs. Whatever the reasons for feelings, these employees are not likely to enjoy the low-stress and high-morale benefits of dogs in the office. More likely, the opposite will be true for them. Their feelings should be respected, and they should not be forced or expected to interact with co-workers’ pets.
Even well-trained dogs aren’t always on their best behavior. A whimpering, barking or otherwise restless dog can become a nuisance even for dog-loving employees who need to concentrate on their work. Plus, an overly doting pet owner may wind up spending too much quality time with their dog and not enough quality time with their to-do list.
CON: HEALTH CONCERNS
There’s no avoiding it: Some people are allergic to dogs. Whether they like dogs or not isn’t relevant. If they’re around dogs, it will be a problem for them, to some extent. And everyone will have a problem if someone’s dog is dirty or unhygienic. Not all owners take their pets’ well-being as seriously as they should, and a dog’s ill health can spread around the office.
CON: SAFETY CONCERNS
Again, not all dog owners are built alike. Even a healthy, reliable, productive employee may not be the best animal caregiver in the world. Some employee’s dog may be an unruly, messy, destructive pain in the butt. That’s not to mention the health, safety and legal problems that could ruin everyone’s good time if someone’s dog bites a co-worker.
Next: Dogs at the Office
CON: DOGS DON’T ALWAYS FIT
Despite the benefits, a dog-friendly policy is simply not for everyone. Some companies, by the nature of their business, need to foster a less casual, more professional atmosphere. Other companies may not have enough physical space to accommodate extra bodies. There are any number of logistical complications that may outweigh the benefits of having dogs in a particular workplace.
Dogs at Work: Pros and Consdogs of our lives
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