From lowering stress to encouraging exercise, pets have been shown to offer a variety of benefits to their owners. But do animals have a role among the hustle and bustle of office life? A growing number of workplaces certainly think so.
“I love bringing my dog to work,” says Deanna Meyler of Bozell, a marketing agency in Omaha, Nebraska. “She is not old or sick, but I’m more comfortable knowing that when she needs to go to the bathroom, she can tell me at any moment. This often happens when I am super stressed and enthralled by work. Mostly she is telling me to step away from my desk for a moment and think through what is stumping me. Consequently, my productivity goes up and my stress goes down. She does this for my co-workers, too. Many people come to my cube just to pet my dog. I have a chance to get to know people on a level that would otherwise be unavailable. In meetings, she will go from person to person for attention and make the entire room smile.”
Karla Jo Helms, CEO of JoTo PR, agrees that pets can make a more productive work environment because people are happier. The office cat is so much a part of her company that he is even listed as a member of the team on the website. “He greets all clients and guests. Our clients love that we have pets here, and it has made the most ‘uptight’ person chill out. We find it has great PR value and people instantly relate to us.”
A study by Virginia Commonwealth University backs up what these workers have observed, concluding that pets “may buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and make the job more satisfying for those with whom they come into contact.” Sampling stress hormone levels, researchers found that stress declined for employees on days their dogs were present and rose significantly on days left home. Researchers also found that employees as a whole at a pet-friendly workplace had higher job satisfaction than industry norms, suggesting the animals may make a difference to owners and non-owners alike.
Image courtesy of Pets Best Insurance, an organization based in Boise, Idaho, that welcomes four-legged friends in the office.
Tomorrow: Check out more on pets in the workplace.