Paws for thought –office design and pets at work

byd-logoThis Friday (June 26th), it’s officially Bring Your Dog to Work Day. As the name suggests, it’s the one day of the year when you’re able to, if not positively encouraged to, bring your dog to work. (If your boss allows you, of course.) It’s also an annual nationwide event that raises money for charities dedicated to making a difference to the welfare of dogs.

Dogs at Work

Since we’re all-round animal lovers at Paramount, we thought we’d broaden our scope beyond pooches and look at the wider subject of businesses who introduce Pets at Work (or PAW) policies. Should your office design recognise the needs of your furrier members of staff? And we don’t mean bearded Barry in IT.

Pooches by the printer & felines on the fax

Many scientific studies have concluded that the presence of pets can substantially reduce a person’s stress level in the workplace. Increased job satisfaction, team co-operation and morale have all been reported in employees that spend the workday with their pets. We particularly like the fact that the lead study author of the research undertaken at Virginia Commonwealth University was called Randolph Barker!

Awareness of these results is one reason why an increasing number of businesses are adopting pet-friendly policies, including Mashable, Google and Amazon. While it might be a relatively new trend for some businesses, Ibex Outdoor Clothing in America have allowed their staff’s four-legged friends to accompany them to work since they launched in 1997. They even get their own page on the website!

Cats at Work

Why are businesses ‘taking the lead’?

So what’s making these companies sit up and take notice? Here are a few reasons why introducing a pets at work policy could benefit your business;

  1. Work/Life Balance

You don’t have to worry about leaving them home, which makes for a well-balanced office of happy, relaxed and productive staff.

  1. Socialising

Social cohesion was one of the main motivators mentioned in relation to Knowledge Workers at our last Thought Leadership event. And pets are a great social catalyst, with one 2010 report finding that they even improved trust between co-workers.

  1. Lower Stress

The study by VCU that we mentioned earlier saw an 11% decline of stress levels amongst workers with dogs by the end of the day, as opposed to a 70% increase for those without a furry friend. It’s also been shown that petting a dog increases the levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decreases production of the stress hormone cortisol.

  1. Better Health

Studies by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention have shown that owning a pet can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You’re also more likely to get away from your desk for some fresh air.

  1. Creativity

Okay, this one doesn’t relate solely to having a pet in the office, but a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that going for a walk rather than sitting, can boost creative thinking by up to 60%. Proving that keeping fit in the office is definitely worthwhile.

  1. Bonding

As well as boosting internal morale, an office pet can be a welcome ice-breaker for clients and other visitors. Ironically, it can make the company seem more ‘human’ and approachable.

Cat Water Cooler

Image source: Speadbump.com

Or is it actually a ‘ruff’ deal?

Not everyone shares the opinion that pets in the workplace is a good thing though. Here are a few reasons why you might not open your doors to any old Tom, Dick and Fido;

  1. Allergies & Phobias

For everyone who feels relaxed with an animal in the room, there are just as many who will either suffer from an allergy to them or even have a genuine fear of them. For the wellbeing of your staff, this needs to be taken into consideration.

  1. Safety

We’re hoping that anyone with a nervous, over-excitable or aggressive pet wouldn’t consider bringing them into the workplace. They are animals after all and as such, unpredictable. Care should be taken.

  1. Distractions

Anyone who owns an animal can attest to the fact that it’s a full time job. They need to be fed, watered and… ‘toileted’ regularly, which can be a distraction from your day-to-day work.

The Pooches of Paramount

Having said all of that, we couldn’t let this blog go published without a shout out (or should that be bark out?) to our canine colleagues, even though they mostly stay at home. So here’s a roll call of the pooches of Paramount;

Gareth & Zoe Helen, Tia & Biscuit

Rachel & Pudding Nigel's dog

Pictured; Gareth & Zoe, Helen with Tia & Biscuit, Rachel & Pwdin, Nigel & Ruby

In case you were wondering, we don’t have a pets at work policy of our own. With plenty of easily chewed design layouts and modern office furniture just waiting to be ‘marked as territory’, we’ve taken the decision to keep our furry friends at home.

But we’d definitely like to see yours, so feel free to post your office pet photos on our Twitter page.

Written by Helen Bartlett, Tia & Biscuit.

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