Being able to bring your pets to work is, in our opinion, a pretty awesome perk and should be taken advantage of whenever possible! No doubt, there's been an upward trend of pet-friendly workplaces which, though great news for pet owners, has caused some to wonder whether allowing animals in the office is beneficial or harmful to productivity. Admittedly, we at Cuteness may be a tad biased when it comes to this issue, but we've got some solid research backing our opinion that only good things come of allowing cute animals inside the office. Read on to learn more.
The Benefits of Pets in the Workplace
Pets Relieve Work Stress
It's been shown time and again that animals are astounding stress relievers. For example, a study was conducted in 2001 with a group of people suffering from high blood pressure. The researchers wanted to see if there was any significant difference in blood pressure levels between pet owners and non pet owners. Sure enough, they found that those who had pets had lower blood pressure during times of mental stress than patients who didn't have pets. The reason? It may have to do with the fact that affectionate contact with animals is known to increase oxytocin levels (an anti-stress hormone) and reduce cortisol levels (a stress hormone). And if there was ever an environment where stress levels can shoot through the roof, it's at the office! The solution? Animals at work, of course. In fact, the results of a study conducted in 2012 (published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management) reveal that stress levels at work dropped when the participants were allowed to work alongside their dogs.
Animals Encourage Team Bonding
There's just something about a shared love for animals that draws people—even complete strangers—closer together. When you're out walking your dog, chances are you've struck up many random, friendly conversations with other dog owners you've never met before. The same can happen at work. Bring a dog in, and you'll finally learn the names of everyone on the accounting team when they swing by your desk to coo over your precious pooch. Pets are, quite simply, the perfect ice-breakers.
Pets Increase Productivity + Hours at the Office
Now, lets get to the REAL reason why more and more employers are allowing people to bring their animal companions into work—the evidence that pets in the office, even if mildly distracting, actually make people more productive. It appears counterintuitive, but studies show that regular distractions from work (as long as they're brief!) are actually a good thing. Taking regular mental breaks (of a couple minutes or so) from one's work is known to increase work quality and efficiency. Another reason pets increase productivity at work is that their owners will tend to remain in the office longer than those who don't bring in their pets. Perhaps this is because they don't have to worry about picking up their pooch from doggy day care before it closes, or trying to beat rush hour traffic to get home in time to let their dog out for an evening toilet break, or rushing through their final tasks of the day so they can get back home to spend more quality time with their fur-kid. In fact, a survey conducted in 2008 by the American Pet Products Manufacturers found that people who worked in pet-friendly offices were willing to work more hours and took less days off than employees who weren't allowed to bring pets to work.
The verdict? A great big YES to pets at the office! If nothing else, your workplace will become a whole lot cuter.
By Jay Matthews
Hypertension: Pet Ownership, but Not ACE Inhibitor Therapy, Blunts Home Blood Pressure Responses to Mental Stress
APPA: U.S. Companies Continue Trend of Allowing Pets in the Workplace
Orca Health: Take a Break! It May Increase Productivity
Psychology Today: The latest on the biology of the human-animal bond
International Journal of Workplace Health Management: Preliminary investigation of employee's dog presence on stress and organizational perceptions
About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.