Hate leaving behind your furry friend while go to work? Increasingly, businesses are allowing their employees to bring their pets to the office.
From large companies to locally owned stores and veterinary practices, working alongside animals — especially dogs — is becoming more common. Experts say the practice could improve workers’ moods and productivity.
“I think for a lot of people pets exert a major calming influence on them,” said Ashley Brown, practice manager at Animal Hospital at Brier Creek in Raleigh, N.C. “For our pet parents, they’re not just animals, they are their babies.”
One of the most well-known dog-friendly companies is Amazon.com, which has more than 6,000 dogs joining their owners each day at its Seattle headquarters. The Amazon campus includes designated relief areas, free treats and two dog parks. To bring a pet to work, employees have to register the animal and talk with their manager and fellow workers to make sure everyone is comfortable with the pet. They must also give proof of vaccination and review Amazon’s dog policies.
While this may be the latest trend in tech companies, small businesses have been allowing pets in the workplace for years. Often it’s because the owner is a pet lover and because they have fewer employees to manage.
Doug Diesing, owner of Seaboard Wine & Tasting Bar in Raleigh, N.C., brings his 10-year-old Lab mix named Gruner to work several days a week. “We’ve always been dog-friendly,” Diesing said. “It’s a nice calming effect to have a dog laying around when people are shopping. We let customers bring their dogs in.”
He said that Gruner has his own “fan club” — some customers will shop in the store only when they know Gruner will be there. People who enter the store usually like that a dog is there to greet them, Diesing said.
Similarly, customers at Autobahn Automotive know to look for Duke when they walk in. The 11-year-old black lab, who belongs to office manager Matthew Drake, has been coming to the office almost every day since Drake got him in 2008. “He likes people more than he likes other dogs,” Drake said. “I know for us, he’s just a part of the team pretty much. He’s almost like an employee.”
These benefits of having dogs in the workplace have been documented in recent studies.
According to a 2016 report by Banfield Pet Hospital, a pet-friendly office contributes to a sense of well-being, reduced stress, greater work-life balance and reduced guilt about leaving a pet at home. It can also lead to improved work relationships, increased productivity and the ability to work longer hours.
In addition, 83 percent of employees surveyed said they had a greater sense of loyalty to their employers when there were pet-friendly policies in place and that 88 percent said having pets at work improves morale.
But what about the potential problems with having dogs around?
Some people are afraid of dogs and others may get distracted by the animals.
Having a dog scare or bite a customer is certainly a concern, but this is typically easy to resolve, said Diesing of Seaboard Wine.
“If a customer is a little skittish about a dog, we can bring it to the back room,” he said. “It’s a very rare occurrence. We have more of a problem with unruly children than dogs.”