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Are Office Dogs a Distraction or Productivity Booster?

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday November 5, 2019

Updated : Tuesday December 15, 2020

It’s no secret that Benefits by Design is a fan of bringing your dog to work (the evidence is on our Instagram page). They bring a smile to our faces and give our employees a boost and a good laugh.

However, there’s plenty of discussions about whether or not bringing dogs into the workplace is more of a distraction to employees than anything else. There are also a few Human Resources (HR) and employer liability considerations to take into account.

Where did the concept originate?

Pet Sitter’s International (PSI) is largely credited with the founding of the first “international take your dog to work day” in 1999. Since then, the number of workplaces allowing pets in the workplace has grown to about 8%.

We’re proudly amongst that number and have found our office dogs have become a part of our workforce. They say hi to all the employees, give them short mental breaks, and encourage employees to take short walks. Sure, their job may sound easy compared to some, but they work hard to ensure other employees are happy!

Are dogs in the office a distraction or productivity booster?

Frankly, there’s evidence for both sides. Here’s what we found out when we dug deeper:

Office Dogs as a Productivity Booster

Office dogs wander around greeting employees and offer them opportunities for breaks from work (such as the mental and physical breaks mentioned above). Even still, they increase job satisfaction and employee retention. They can reduce employee stress (there are therapy dogs devoted to this task alone) and boost employee morale. Generally speaking, employers who welcome employees’ furry pals are more likely to retain and attract top talent.

Office Dogs as a Distraction

The distractions are what you’d expect: barking, running around, stealing food, and accidents. There may also be considerations for employees with allergies or those who aren’t fond of dogs.

A lot of this will depend on the workplace and how successfully they can put rules around bringing your dog to work.

5 Tips for a Successful “Bring Your Dog to Work Day”

Since we’re huge advocates for dog days, here are some tips to ensure successful office dog days:

Tip #1: Limit the number of dogs allowed. 

Our limit is two dogs on any day. Any more than that, and we’ve found things can get a bit crazy. Have a sign-up sheet for employees to sign their pups up and stick to it.

Tip #2: Give them something to do. 

Encourage pet owners to bring toys, treats, food, and to set up water dishes for their furry friends.

Tip #3: Accidents happen – be prepared. 

Accidents happen. Dog poop bags and carpet cleaning products are a must-have.

Tip #4: Be aware of employee allergies and feelings. 

You don’t want to alienate employees, so it’s essential to be aware of employees with allergies or those who aren’t fond of dogs. Consider setting up a “no pet zone” in the office if needed.

Tip #5: Check your office lease policy. 

Some leases don’t allow for pets and could get you in hot water. Confirm your lease agreement or talk to the landlord about bringing your dog to work.