Woof. Let me say up front, I love dogs. Our two dogs dictate the rhythm of our family. We plan vacations around kennel availability. The dogs eat expensive food and have sophisticated dog friends. In short, our dogs are special, just like yours, and you should take your dog to work every day.
Dogs are no trouble, they are comforting and they bring a calming perspective to what can be a stressful environment. Dogs tell you when “Timmy falls down the well” and having them around can position the company as a cool place to work.
It is an easy case to make but not everyone agrees.
The Tappet Brothers of NPR’s “Car Talk” took a call from a guy who prefaced his question with a brief comment. He said “ I have a 2004 Mercedes diesel…”. Before the poor guy could say more, Click and Clack fell on the floor with laughter and asked the guy, “Which part do you like best? The noise, the fumes or the acceleration?”
If Click and Clack were asked the same question about dogs at work they may well respond with, “Which part do you like about dogs at work, that they poop on the rug, they eat your bagel or they hump your leg?”
But the trend is moving. Especially in Silicon Valley, dogs are roaming the aisles between the cubes in greater numbers than ever. And yes, they are eating the bagels and pooping on the rugs.
Last year, at a startup in San Francisco, I met with the CEO. She had her yellow lab with her. His name was Chester. The three other members of the startup team had their dogs too. There was Belle the Shih Tzu, Rambo the Lhasa Apso, and Leo the rescue dog. It was one big happy family of entrepreneurs and canines. The rugs were always cleaned quickly and the dogs were calm. But that was a year ago. Now there are one hundred people in the firm and lots of dogs.
She said it simply, “When there are thirty of them running around the building, dogs at work is a model that just does not scale.”
I doubt that Chevron or Nordstrom are looking at their dog policy in the Employee Manual just yet. But for many in smaller companies, especially startups, “To take or not to take, that is the question”.
Why you should take your dog to work:
- The dog will introduce you to your co-workers. Don’t believe me? Take a walk around the block with a puppy.
- The hours you spend in the office become infinite if you don’t have to worry about getting home to let the dog out. Nine to five can stretch to nine to nine.
- The dog as muse sometimes works. Stuck on that press release? Pet the dog for a minute and inspiration will ensue.
- If you don’t like your boss, you can teach your dog to growl when he or she comes around. This tactic could also limit your career however.
- It is a proven fact that we all want to be the person our dog thinks we are; you can look it up. If the dog is next to you, you will be reminded.
Why you shouldn’t take your dog to work:
- The distraction of keeping track of your dog will hurt your productivity. Instead of draining email all day you may be worried about whether Fido had made his way down to the Starbucks on the corner. With every dog added to the mix, productivity goes down. It’s an equation – more dogs/less productivity.
- Some co-workers are allergic to dogs and some just plain don’t like dogs. Your dog can hurt your relationship with allergic or annoyed co-workers.
- Dogs have bad breath and will get spoiled at work because everyone will feed the dog out of the company kitchen. Dogs love barbecue Pop Chips.
- People say dog owners look like their dogs. If you have a really ugly dog, don’t bring it along.
- A Newfoundland or St. Bernard will take up an entire cubicle. No one wants to clean up after a dog that big.
OK, there are pluses and minuses here when it comes to dogs at work and each organization has to figure out what makes sense. I do love our dogs but I am having second thoughts. When I think of the comment that “it’s a model that just doesn’t scale”, maybe the dogs should stay home after all.
Photo: Ryan McVay via Getty Images