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Working in an office can mean long and sometimes stressful days. But some companies have discovered that allowing employees to bring their dogs into the office offers lots of benefits — for everyone.
For the dogs, it provides a way to socialize and get a change of scenery. And for the people, four-legged colleagues can alter the whole atmosphere of an office.
Lara Hirschfield, who manages the "dogs at work" program for Amazon, recounts a cute and impromptu meeting between dogs of the largest and smallest breeds in her office.
“They were wearing the same collar — just a different size,” she says. “It was like they were celebrities because they were surrounded by all these people taking pictures. It’s a really joyful break in your day. It’s that unexpected benefit.”
For companies like Amazon and Etsy, welcoming pets at their headquarters has been a benefit from the get-go. “Dogs at work at Amazon has really been a part of our DNA,” Hirschfield says.
To find out more about how dogs make the workplace better, Vetstreet talked to representatives from Amazon and Etsy and rounded up five of the best benefits below.
You don’t even have to be the one with the dog in the office to benefit from the stress relief they offer. Hirschfield notes that for some employees who travel a lot, having a dog may not be feasible. But the pups they run into at work can give them something to smile about. “There are about 2,000 dogs in the program and about 30 percent show up on any given day. They’re not always here — there’s kind of a rotating attendance,” she says of Amazon's Seattle campus.
Paloma Medina, a learning and development consultant for Etsy, has witnessed the way dogs can help. “Stress levels decrease and laughter and levity increase when a dog is present in an office,” she wrote in an Etsy blog post. “Further research shows that decreases in stress and increases in joy are critical for improved focus, productivity and creativity at work.”
Amazon has a newly developed tower that opened in December, with a deck that includes a place for the dogs. The building also features a “dog-friendly alternative workspace," a lounge-type environment where people can be joined by their dog, Hirschfield says. Extra thought has gone into designing the spaces with appropriate materials. “We’ve been really thoughtful about the type of furniture that supports dogs, so you know — no suede,” she jokes.
“It’s great to see the surprise on our employees’ faces when they get to work in a bit of a residential setting with their dog,” she added.
Being in that kind of environment can spark creativity. “Our dog-friendly office policy has been in place since Etsy began over 10 years ago, and it’s one of the ways we strive to maintain a creative and inspiring work environment where people feel happy, productive and like themselves,” says Etsy spokesperson Ariana Anthony.
Of course, just like at home, having a dog with you at the office also means you’re going to have to go outside and get some exercise when you take him for a walk. Amazon makes that easier for its employees by providing outdoor spaces where they’ve selected pet-friendly plants and “certain rocks that are more interesting than others,” Hirschfield says.
Having a dog around provides that icebreaker to make connections with fellow employees, including those who you might not get to know otherwise. “We have such a diverse population, from software developers to recruiters,” Hirschfield says. When dogs are in the mix, “they interact more and it really helps to promote that employee connection in a really positive way.” Amazon’s offices include places for dogs and their people to congregate and chat.
Does your office allow pets? If you're considering bringing your dog to work, make sure to check with your veterinarian first.
We'll leave you with this happy photo of an Etsy employee enjoying a visit with one of the dogs in her office.
I walked into 606 and this lil' dingus on the right was staring at me, smiling #dogsofetsy A photo posted by Elizabeth (@easkirkland) on Sep 18, 2015 at 12:42pm PDT
I walked into 606 and this lil' dingus on the right was staring at me, smiling #dogsofetsy
A photo posted by Elizabeth (@easkirkland) on Sep 18, 2015 at 12:42pm PDT
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