Are Dogs in The Office Really a Good Idea?
The pros and cons of having dogs in your office.
The number of the dog-friendly offices has surged in recent years. Companies such as Google, Amazon and many more are happy to promote their pooch-friendly office space. While this is a huge draw for many pet owners and dog-loving folk, not everyone is so thrilled about it.
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Here are the pros and cons of having dogs in the office.
1. Reduces stress
There are many studies that indicate the presence of dogs can help ease stressful situations. A Buffalo University New York research group found that the presence of pets in stressful situations can lower blood pressure. Having their dog nearby can also offer a sense of support for the pet owner which can help ease the effects of pressure at work.
2. Social interaction
There is no denying it that having a dog is very sociable. Co-workers will stop by to pet and play with your dog and they also provide a great conversation topic during lunch or in the coffee room.
3. Financial benefit for owners
4. Company image
Having dogs in your office can present a friendly company image for customers or potential business partners. A lovable pooch there to welcome newcomers into the office can be a great icebreaker, provide easy conversation and set meetings off to a great start.
The possibility of bringing their dog to the office is a huge draw for many dog owners. As Care.com’s HR Manager, Conni, notes, “When I became a dog owner, I was all the more pleased that I was allowed to take my dog, Xena, to the office as well… because leaving Xena alone for at least eight hours was simply incompatible with my conscience.” This benefit is a great way to attract new dog-owning recruits.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an estimated 15-30% of people with allergies react to dogs and cats. The level of reaction can vary from mild to extreme and symptoms can include sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, pain from nasal congestion, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, tight chest, itchy eyes and a skin rash.
A lot of people are afraid of dogs. Whether they had a childhood incident, are afraid of being bitten or are just inherently frightened of animals, having a dog in the workplace can be upsetting and frightening for people with a dog phobia. For those with severe dog phobias, even the anticipation of dogs arriving in the workspace can be enough to cause anxiety and panic.
There is no getting away from the fact that dogs can be distracting for colleagues, particularly if several people bring their dogs into the office at once. It can happen that a co-worker is on an important phone call and a dog is barking loudly in the background. Also, the constant stream of people stopping to pet your dog can distract you from your daily tasks. In addition, if there are several dogs, they can occasionally rile each other up and the noise of them barking and playing can distract people from their work.
4. Property damage
Even if a dog is well trained, accidents can happen. From dog hair in the carpet to chewing the table legs, having dogs in the office comes with a risk of property damage. To prevent property damage, offices will need to be dog-proofed which can be quite costly.
5. Legal and insurance
Companies planning on having a dog-friendly office must ask if they are opening themselves up to legal risks. Many business insurance policies don’t include dog cover so business owners will likely have to purchase third party insurance for their dog. Business owners may also require employees with dogs to personally insure their pets if they want to bring them into the office so the business owner is not held responsible if there is an accident or injury.
Dogs in the office can cause a mess and, let’s face it, lots of them smell. From dog hair shedding to bits of chewed up toys left around the place, the presence of dogs can result in unwanted litter for other colleagues. Dog owners also must be vigilant in taking their dogs out for walks to avoid having any accidents. The last thing anyone needs, especially someone who doesn’t like dogs, is to find a nasty surprise beside their desk.
If dogs are to be present in the office, the business must instil strict hygiene standards. With the exception of service dogs, dog owners should be required to wash their pets twice a week. Bathing dogs regularly can also help with the reduction of allergens.
7. Cultural sensitivities
Employers and dog owners must recognise that people from different cultures and societies regard dogs very differently from one another. For example, dogs are not regarded as pets for many Muslims. In other cultures, dogs are not kept as pets because of possible diseases and infections and, in others, dogs are only to be kept for help with outdoor tasks. It is important to acknowledge that not all cultures are compatible with sharing an office with dogs.
So, what are employers to do if they want a dog office without causing disruption and upset to other colleagues? There are a few steps that can be taken to minimise the fallout from dogs in the office. These can include a trial period to make sure each dog behaves appropriately in the office environment, employee consensus on each dog and their behaviour and the creation of dog-free zones.
Do you think dogs should be allowed in the office?
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