It’s now been over a year since Itad first opened its doors to four-legged friends, allowing them to join us in our place of work. It all started with a miniature dachshund named Pablo, whose afternoon visits brightened the office and brought staff from all units together in dog-adoring unison. Since Pablo’s first visit, and through his owner’s vision of a dog-friendly office, many dogs of all shapes and sizes have become familiar furry faces around Itad – we even have a schedule for dog owners to coordinate their pet’s visits to the office, and have introduced a policy on pets at work for our staff handbook.
So, what is it that makes having dogs in the office so wonderful?
Firstly, dogs in the office result in happier, more relaxed staff. A recent study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed that pets in the workplace increase the feeling of ‘social support’ – that being the mechanisms by which relationships with other people buffer individuals from stress. An increase in social support has not only been associated with lower levels of depression and better job performance but has also been identified as a key
factor in whether people with mental illness return to work or remain employed. Surprisingly, this particular study found that pets can actually increase the feeling of social support more than close friends or spouses – but when you look at the science, it’s obvious why dogs make us feel that much better; petting our dogs, or even just thinking about them, has been shown to increase our levels of oxytocin: a chemical responsible for reducing stress, increasing tolerance, enhancing well-being, and much more.
Further to staff happiness, it’s been observed that having a dog in the office nurtures productivity – when staff spend too much time too close to their work, productivity can become inhibited and result in stress that could have been avoided by simply taking a step back. Having a dog at work encourages staff to pause more frequently; short walks, playtime, and even temporary distractions allow for much needed mental breaks, which in turn leads to fewer staff feeling overworked and less opportunities for stress to set in.
And it’s not only the humans of Itad who benefit from having a dog-friendly workplace. Having an office that allows for dogs means less time home alone for our canine companions, and presents new opportunities for them to become better socialised. After several visits, the workplace becomes a second home for the dog and colleagues become a second family (my greyhound, Luigi, often tries to drag me into work on weekends in the hope that he might get a tummy-rub or a treat from one of my teammates!)
While it’s understandable that not all workplaces can foster a dog-friendly environment, it’s truly noticeable that dogs can make your office a warmer, more sociable space – and in terms of increasing staff happiness – you’d have to be barking mad to ignore the evidence!