As you walk into the Dialogue office in Swindon, you will be greeted with a very warm welcome, a firm handshake, the offer of a hot drink and possibly a wag of a tail or two, because Dialogue is amongst the 8% (according to a poll by reed.co.uk) of forward-thinking companies in the UK who encourage woofers at work!
Clearly not on the scale of Nestlé, who are well documented to have fully embraced this revolution. Unlike Nestlé, we haven’t created an outdoor area (called ‘Central Bark’) neither do our ‘working’ dogs have to obtain a health check ‘passpawt’ to be allowed in, nor is there a ‘claws’ in employee contracts (sorry, just ‘unleashing’ just a few puns!) but our employees do have that all important choice to invite them in!
The whole concept does raise a few pertinent questions. Is it perhaps a rather romantic and fanciful notion from across the pond? Is it just this season’s trend to promote the canine colleague? Is it just another fashion accessory or statement to bring Fido, Freddie and Fluffy into work? Scientific studies suggest otherwise, which support the belief that the presence of a dog at work is anything but fanciful. Their company is highly regarded to be stress relieving and motivational because just by having dogs near, whether stroking casually or giving your undivided attention, can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. Blood pressure can decrease by simply looking at a dog or indeed any animal. I carried out my own non-scientific study and concluded that it should be supported, as I beamed and cooed over pictures of our office pictures (as seen here!). The desire to smile when viewing these pictures is overwhelming and instinctive!
One study shows that when asked to recite any unfamiliar or unrehearsed task, for example mental arithmetic or asking for directions in a foreign language, blood pressure and heart rate was significantly lower when a dog was present. They can relax people, give confidence and ease social situations. In fact, some companies have reported an increase in sales, due to the presence of dogs in meetings. Perhaps it is a matter of time before dogs become commonplace at work.
With exercise at the top of most dog’s to-do list, by association it becomes the top of the owner’s list too. Another valid reason to bring your pooch to work. A sharp intake of fresh air clears the head and the senses, refreshed for the afternoon’s schedule! Some companies witnessed positive social interactions taking place, with non-dog owning colleagues offering to exercise the dogs brought in.
Nadine at Dialogue agrees:
My dogs should be on a wage for the number of positive roles they fulfil whilst in the office. They are great for relieving stress, bringing happiness to everyone they meet and remind us to take a break and get fresh air. They also happen to love taking old post-it notes out of the recycling bin and chewing them up – so we have our very own live paper shredders too!
On a practical level, when your employer gives staff the nod to bring their dogs to work it makes life cheaper and easier. Without having to hire dog walkers on a daily basis, you save money and in turn, it lessens stress and anxiety about leaving your dog on their own for long periods of time.
Would canine colleagues suit all? Probably not, as not everyone is a dog lover, and some of course, are allergic. There will be many organisations that are not set up for the inevitable transition. In order to make it work, there would have to be strict rules and regulations and the dogs must not impact on the cogs turning. There will inevitably be teething problems, but with everything considered, I would definitely champion my canine colleagues.
Do you take your dog to work? Should we all be allowed to bring them in or are we making sweeping assumptions that everyone’s OK with it?