June 21, 2019
Can bringing dogs to the office really make your work life better?
To celebrate national take your dog to work day, we speak to workplace well-being expert and clinical psychologist, Marcela Slepica, who lists the advantages of being joined by our canine friends at work.
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have more than 20 years’ experience in providing workplace psychology services across a range of industries including health, finance, and human resource. My experience includes counselling, critical incident stress management, manager support, mediation, organisational consulting and training. Understanding the needs of an individual, team or organisation and empowering them to find solutions and help themselves is my passion.
Owning two lovely dogs myself, I love taking them with me whenever I need to travel. I actively try to find hotels that can accommodate my dogs when I go on holiday.
- How can dogs help people in the workplace?
Multiple studies have shown the mental, social, and physiological health benefits of owning or interacting with an animal, which causes the body to release ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and dopamine that help combat stress, depression and anxiety. Additionally, pets have proven positive physical effects from improved cardiovascular health to lower cholesterol levels.
- How can we make the environment safe for human and dogs?
“Of course, there are some reservations with allowing dogs in the workplace, and therefore it’s important to set boundaries and rules to guarantee the focus is purely on the benefits. Make sure that everyone is happy with having dogs around and if not, take precautions as to not make any other staff member feel uncomfortable. Remember to make your office dog friendly, and ensure that pets are approachable and well-behaved.”
James Parkinson, of Happy Tails says that: “People are increasingly looking at new ways to provide the best care for their pets and, this includes bringing their furry friend to their job, Not wanting to cart pet beds, leads, toys and food to and from work, many are setting up a ‘barking lot’ at their desks.”
- How can we persuade our bosses to allow us to bring our dogs?
“Workplace stress and burnout are now terms that are rife amongst many workers, and where there is stress, negativity isn’t far behind. Negativity in turn leads to low morale, lack of productivity and poor work performance, resulting in overall damages to your bottom line, 95% of HR leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce. To avoid these concerns, many companies and their bosses should consider taking a small step and allowing staff members to bring their dogs to the office, which have many proven benefits to a person’s mindset and their attitude to work.”
Marcela goes on to say, “It’s also a perk that result in benefits for the boss and the business. For many dog owners, being able to bring their pet to work is a huge convenience that makes their job possible, while for prospective employees it can be a great added incentive. By avoiding the cost and inconvenience of expensive dog day care and walking services, the financial pressure and stress of pet ownership is reduced, allowing team members to focus on their job.”
- Are there any countries that are leading the way on this?
“Whilst 30% of Australian workers report that their workplace is already pet-friendly, Australia is still trailing behind the USA and Britain. These countries have given their all to the cause since “Bring Your Dog to Work Day” was introduced in 1999.”
- Is this a growing trend?
“With 43% of employees wanting pets to be allowed in their offices and 39% claiming this would increase their productivity2, this is a trend that just keeps on growing. This is not surprising considering the variety of benefits including, mindfulness, exercise, purpose and social interaction between colleagues.”
- Do you take your pet to work regularly?
“Naturally there are workplaces that are more suitable for bringing dogs to, such as on-site for labourers and landscapers. By having the space to run around, it can exert some of the natural energy that the dogs may have. Due to confined space, bringing many dogs into one office can be quite tight and it’s important to consider the regulations that need to be put in place.
Many offices now have an open-door policy to pets, such as Sydney based integrated communications agency, Niche Marketing Group.”
Labradoodle Stella and French bulldog, Bella have an important role in the business says Director, Lyndelle Morgan. “Having dogs in the office provides the team with an opportunity to take time out of their busy work schedules. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of running events and chasing down a story, or to become engrossed in crafting content, so sometimes we need a reminder to take a break.”
 NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19185195
 Ahajournals.org – https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829201e1
 Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace
 The Telegraph June 2018