Each time the subject of dogs in the workplace is broached, hate mail ensues. The record will show that I am not a big fan of dogs running around whilst you try to finish that spreadsheet analysis. Keep in mind, I love dogs – dogs literally are man’s and woman’s best friends. But dogs and work is just not a combination that scales. It’s ok if you work from home and Fido is lovingly nestled at your feet. It’s another thing to have a hundred dogs jumping around the office eating your bagel and making a mess on the rug. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe I changed my mind; I am not proud or always correct. Maybe we should bring dogs to work. According to a big study from Uppsala University in Sweden, research shows that owning a dog is linked to a longer and healthier life and, to my mind, might improve a work culture.
At the same time as the Uppsala report about the heath benefits of dogs, lots of other research shows that work is bad for your health. The stress, the commute, and the doughnuts all contribute to the belief that work can cause heart disease and worse. Some researchers like Jeff Pfeffer, noted Stanford Professor, have found a multitude of ways that work is killing us. So maybe the secret to work health is, DOGS.
The researchers can’t pinpoint what it is exactly about Rover and his friends that lead to the healthier results but a Ph.D is not required to come to a few conclusions that can apply to the office. The sense is that dogs seem to point us into better lifestyle choices and happier moods. Who doesn’t want healthier and happier colleagues at work?
The new research brings me to the hypothesis that dogs and work is a good combination and can lead to a happier and more productive culture. Perhaps love from a dog could help make the job better and make you more successful. Maybe a few reasons for consideration will make you run to the pound for a rescue dog.
Corporate culture research almost always focuses on the boss and learning and purpose and behavior. Maybe one of the secret to a healthy and engaged culture is a dog. The new research could have implications about building a better workplace.
Here are a few thoughts that ties the research into the workplace:
Dogs at work can reduce feeling overwhelmed? Not sure about making the deadline? Pet the dogs belly and feel the love and your stress level will go down. Spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and stress. All the studies show people performing stressful tasks do better when there’s a dog around. And lower stress means lower blood pressure.
Dogs require walking. Fitting exercise in to the schedule is tough, especially at work. But having Buster jumping around with a leash in his mouth will make you get out of the chair and take a walk. Dog owners are way more likely to get exercise, even at work. And as a bonus, all of that dog walking will help you lose weight as long as you don’t take a doughnut with you on the walk. Daily dog walks will force you into activity and will help you lose weight.
Improve your social life at work. When everyone is wearing headphones and texting it can be difficult to develop relationships with your colleagues. Forget Facebook, try walking a dog. People will jump out of their routine to say hello and pet the dog and maybe talk to you too. Dogs are a built-in team builder.
So dogs at work reduce stress, help you lose weight and make new friends. What’s not to like? What kinds of dogs are best for this to happen you ask? The research pointed to dogs like terriers and retrievers for the best results.
Of course there is still the downside of packs of dogs taking over the conference rooms but that’s a minor technicality. So be nice, go out and get a puppy for your boss and all your colleagues.