Spark & Curiosity: Animals in the Workplace

At about 3:30 or 4:00 Bodi my dog comes up to my studio and nudges my elbow. This can be irritating when I’m trying figure out a website problem or write something, but upon reflection, it is a good thing. 

even bo can get the president away from his desk! 

even bo can get the president away from his desk! 

Both Linda (the other half of RavenMark) and I are task obsessed so we can sit at our desk for hours and not realize it. Bad, we know. Our dogs, however, come to the rescue. Hence Bodi’s nudge in the afternoon. She gets me up, and we walk outside. Spend some time throwing a ball, walking around the garden, whatever, it is time away from the desk. A moment to rest my eyes and mind.

Whether it is the informal atmosphere that animals bring with them or the humor they may provide, a recent Central Michigan University study found having dogs in the office can improve communication and foster trust and collaboration among co-workers. Another study at the Virginia Commonwealth University showed stress level are lower when animals are around. The study was conducted at a dinnerware company in North Carolina that has 20 to 30 dogs a day at work. When the dogs were around, stress levels declined by 11% for those employees who had dogs with them and rose to 70% for those without a dog by their side.  

Then there are the testimonials, one from a company right here in Vermont. With funding from Purina, Ibex Clothing company produced a video about the company’s experience with pets at work. Keith Anderson, VP of Marketing, commented in an article for Fast Co that “If you’ve had a bad meeting or if you’re having a bad day and you run into that cute goldendoodle that pokes around the corner asking for a dog treat from you, your day is automatically better.”

Obviously there are times when animals are not good to have around an office or workplace, if someone is allergic, for example, or if an animal is unruly. Linda and I both found that when we were in an office downtown, our dogs were too nervous and reactive. In our current studios, they are fine, of course, because there is no one around! So we're lucky. For those, however, who work in a regular office or workplace, Rohan Ayyar throws out some words of caution in a good article recently on the Fast Company blog that points to some of the drawbacks of pets at work. It’s a good reality check, and he even includes a sample of a pet policy you may want to look at.

Linda and I are huge supporters of having pets around, but we also support having a sensible and respectful attitude toward bringing animals and people together, especially in the workplace.

Here are some sources of information that be helpful: 

U.S. Humane Society: Could Your Office Go Pet-Friendly?  
Why Pets in the Workplace May Not Be as Great as You Thought? by Rohan Ayyar
Your Definitive Argument for a Pet Friendly Office by Lisa Evans

We’d love to see you and your animals at work. Send us your Instragram photos @RavenPics!