Dogs at work - is it a good idea?

There's just over two weeks until Bring Your Dog To Work Day. But Britain's favourite day at the office is raising an interesting question: do dogs belong in the workplace?

Friday, 9th June 2017, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 9th June 2017, 2:43 pm

On Friday, June 23, businesses from across the UK will welcome their dog loving employees into the workplace along with their loyal (and well-behaved!) four-legged companions.

As well as promoting the benefits of bringing dogs into safe work environments, the goal of the event is to raise money for animal welfare. The two official charities for 2017 are All Dogs Matter, which rescues and rehomes hundreds of dogs each year in the UK and Animals Asia, a charity foundation that saves dogs and cats from the corrupt meat trade in China and Vietnam.

This year’s event has already seen a number of different organisations support the initiative - including pet product businesses, marketing agencies, a private jet company, a housing association and even a regional police force.

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Celebrities have got involved too, with the likes of Ricky Gervais and ITV’s Loose Women tweeting their support. This has helped the #BringYourDogToWorkDay hashtag trend on Twitter in both 2015 and 2016. It also scooped an acclaimed pet industry marketing award for its traction and reach.

But let’s get serious - are dogs suitable to have in work environments?

Since its conception four years ago, Bring Your Dog To Work Day has become a regular staple in the national calendar. Recent figures support this thinking, with employment website estimating that 8% of employees in Britain have permission to bring their dogs to work.

Plus, an American study published in 2012 summarised that dogs at work may make a positive difference by reducing stress levels in staff and increasing their levels of job satisfaction.

This a view shared by the company BorrowMyDoggy, which regularly welcomes numerous canines into its headquarters in London. Instead of causing distraction in the workplace, the company believe a dog-friendly environment leads to happy staff.

“There are so many studies that show the benefits of having dogs in the workplace and we have definitely experienced those benefits first hand,” explains Lynn Unick from BorrowMyDoggy.

“They make us laugh, they make us smile and their contribution to the overall atmosphere in the office is wonderful. I would absolutely encourage other companies to introduce a pet friendly policy. It’s fantastic for company morale and brings so much happiness into the working day.”

HR Guidance

It was a ‘no dogs allowed’ work policy - coupled with the benefits of dogs in the workplace - that led to the creation of Bring Your Dog To Work Day by Mark Hirschel and Jo Amit, the co-founders of pet product company HOWND.

“We have always brought our dogs Roxy and Laila to work with us, but when we moved into new offices back in 2014 we discovered that they weren’t allowed in the premises,” explains Jo Amit.

“This inspired us to create an event that publicised why dogs can make a positive difference in safe work environments, in attempt to encourage companies across the UK to adopt dog friendly policies.”

Ahead of this year’s event - HOWND has published ‘7 HR Guidelines’ after being asked for advice from a number of office-based organisations:

Written consent should be obtained from every office employee ahead of Bring Your Dog to Work Day.

An accurate record of all dogs in the workplace should be kept.

Each dog coming to the workplace should be kept on a leash while walking in the building as well as outside, and should have an identity tag with the owner’s contact details.

Dogs must be clean and well-groomed ahead of their day at work.

Dogs should be well socialised i.e. good natured and comfortable around dogs and people.

Each participating employee should bring a ‘Dog Packed Lunch’ - including treats, toys, a lead, water bowl, and food.

Each participating employee should also bring appropriate bedding for their dog, i.e. dog basket, mat or rug. Just so the working day is as comfortable as possible!

“We’re overwhelmed with how successful Bring Your Dog To Work Day has become. It’s been amazing to see how many people have posted their dogs at work across all social media in 2014, 2015 and 2016,” adds Jo.

“Most importantly, it’s fantastic to raise money for All Dogs Matter and Animals Asia. We’re hopeful that this year will prove even more popular, building on the momentum of 2016.”

Jobs & Roles

One interesting dynamic of dogs at work is the way they can help establish routines and work roles. PetsPyjamas is a company that has experienced this first hand.

As advocates of dogs in the workplace, PetsPyjamas has a comprehensive four-legged workforce put to task with roles such as product-tes4ng from the 10,000 pet accessories listed to their online marketplace, as well as inspecting some of the 2,000+ truly pet-welcoming hotels, cottages, country houses and B&Bs around the UK and Europe.

Gracia Amico, CEO of PetsPyjamas, says: “We’re thrilled to be part of Bring Your Dog To Work Day. As true advocates for dogs at work and champions of all dog lifestyle, we hope to spread awareness of this fantastic initiative to raise money for animal charities.”

Winning New Business

But the benefits of dogs in the workplace extend beyond employee wellbeing. According to jet hire company PrivateFly, their office labradoodle Tex has proven to be an effective tool for winning new business and communicating with colleagues.

“You can meet some great contacts on a dog walk. It’s a natural icebreaker and you can find yourself striking up conversations with strangers in a park, that would simply not happen otherwise. I met a new private jet client recently while on a run,” explains Adam Twidell from PrivateFly.

“Tex gets me – or someone else in the team – out of the office, even on the busiest days. I’ve had some of my best meetings with colleagues when walking to the park, getting a breath of fresh air. You can’t be chained to your desk when your dog needs a walk.”

For further information about Bring Your Dog To Work Day please visit the official website, or email [email protected]