The Benefits of Pets in the Workplace

By | Posted November 6th, 2012

If there’s one thing cheap cubicle separators and monthly performance reports have to teach us it’s this: office work can be monotonous. The problem is there are only a few activities you can engage in to break up the day-to-day grind. And even those actions eventually become cogs in the repetitive office machine. But a few employees have found an ever-replenishing source of work enjoyment, one that delivers a slew of additional benefits. And it comes, surprisingly, from your own home. How do you break out of the ordinary office cycle and relieve stress at the same time? You bring your pet to work.

Benefit 1: Happiness and Stress Reduction

A March, 2012 study conducted in Greensboro, North Carolina found employees who are allowed to bring their dogs to the office reduce their work-related stress significantly. Not only that, coming in contact with dogs in the office increases other employees’ overall job satisfaction. Want to blow off a little steam and smile at the same time? Try taking the dog out behind the office and throwing a toy around for a few minutes. The simple act of playing with a pet can increase serotonin and dopamine levels, both of which are responsible for regulating feelings of pleasure, happiness, and other positive bodily reactions.

Benefit 2: Increased Productivity

Dogs aren’t just good for reducing stress and increasing happiness. A 2012 study from the Virginia Commonwealth University claims almost half of the workers who bring their pets to the office report higher levels of productivity. And it isn’t just the dog owners who experience an increase in productivity, either. Twenty-five percent of office workers in general think having dogs in the office positively affects their level of productivity.

Benefit 3: Health

Apart from the health benefits you typically receive from a reduction in stress, having pets in the workplace also offers some surprising effects. An August, 2012 Fox Business article reports having pets in the office often encourages pet owners to take several micro-breaks throughout the day. These breaks, while usually only lasting a few minutes, can significantly improve your health as it gets you out from behind the desk and moving around.

In fact, a July, 2011 L.A. Times article claims pet ownership in general seems to increase owners’ overall health. Blood pressure is lowered, lifespan is lengthened, bone density and healing rates are increased, obesity is lessened, and fitness is more prevalent among pet owners.

Benefit 4: Communication

Having pets in the office can also go a long way toward helping you and your coworkers become a cohesive working unit. Pets encourage communication between employees. Coworkers can take each others’ pets out for walks during the workday, which fosters working relationships between employees who may not have otherwise spoken.

Pet-related communication isn’t just limited to pet owners. Employees who either don’t own a pet, or choose not to bring a pet to the workplace also show increased communication with workers who have their pets in the office.

Unfortunately, businesses in the United States are slow to catch on to the positive effects of having pets in the workplace. Right now, only 17% of employers allow pets in the office. But those few are afforded all these benefits and many more just by having changed a simple policy.

If your workplace doesn’t allow pets, try having a conversation with your manager on what can be done to include them. Once you get a response, do everything you can to put pets in office chairs as soon as possible. It will better your working environment faster than you can say, “Woof.”