On Friday 24 June, businesses from across the UK will welcome their dog loving employees into the workplace along with their loyal (and well-behaved!) four-legged companions. The day aims to raise money for All Dogs Matter, a charity which rehomes hundreds of dogs every year in London and Norfolk, while promoting the benefits man’s best friend in the workplace.
This year’s event has already seen a number of different organisations support the initiative – including pet product businesses, marketing agencies, a private jet company, an online bingo website and even a regional police force.
Dog-loving celebrities have voiced their support too, including Ricky Gervais and Rachel Riley. The event was so popular last year that the hashtag #BringYourDoToWorkDay trended on Twitter and was mentioned on Instagram over 9,000 times. It also scooped an acclaimed pet industry marketing award for its traction and reach.
But let’s get serious – are dogs suitable to have in work environments?
Since its conception three years ago, Bring Your Dog To Work Day has become a regular staple in the national calendar. Recent figures support this thinking, with employment website Reed.co.uk estimating that 8% of employees in Britain have permission to bring their dogs to work.
Plus, an American study published in 2012 summarised that dogs at work may make a positive difference by reducing stress levels in staff and increasing their levels of job satisfaction.
This a view shared by the company BorrowMyDoggy, which regularly welcomes numerous canines into its headquarters in London. Instead of causing distraction in the workplace, the company believe a dog-friendly environment leads to happy staff.
“There are so many studies that show the benefits of having dogs in the workplace and we have definitely experienced those benefits first hand,” explains Lynn Unick from BorrowMyDoggy.
“They make us laugh, they make us smile and their contribution to the overall atmosphere in the office is wonderful. I would absolutely encourage other companies to introduce a pet friendly policy. It’s fantastic for company morale and brings so much happiness into the working day.”
It was a ‘no dogs allowed’ work policy – coupled with the benefits of dogs in the workplace – that led to the creation of Bring Your Dog To Work Day by Mark Hirschel and Jo Amit, the co-founders of pet product company HOWND.
“We have always brought our dogs Roxy and Laila to work with us, but when we moved into new offices back in 2014 we discovered that they weren’t allowed in the premises,” says Jo Amit.
“This inspired us to create an event that publicised why dogs can make a positive difference in safe work environments, in attempt to encourage companies across the UK to adopt dog friendly policies.
“We’re overwhelmed with how successful Bring Your Dog To Work Day has become. It’s been amazing to see how many people have posted their dogs at work across all social media in 2014 and 2015. Most importantly, it was fantastic to raise money for a cause that has always been close to our hearts – the wonderful work of All Dogs Matter. We’re hopeful that this year will prove even more popular, building on the momentum of 2015.”
One interesting dynamic of dogs at work is the way they can help establish routines and work roles. Scott Free Films is a company that has experienced this first hand.
Their office dogs have stations next to their owners. This has led to many of the dogs being given their own shadow role in everyday operations – such as Boss who has established a reputation for guarding files.
“All of the dogs in our office building have a part to play in our daily routine. Oscar and Ralph like to hang out at reception, greet visitors and play on the marble floors when the coast is clear,” explains Nancy Ryan from Scott Free Films.
“Jessie, the senior office dog, has claimed two worn leather chairs on the 5th floor, and Ernie the French bulldog puppy from brings joy to all of the employees in the building. It’s clear to see that having these dogs in the office boosts morale, productivity and, believe it or not, promotes calmness.”
But the benefits of dogs in the workplace extend beyond employee wellbeing. According to jet hire company PrivateFly, their office labradoodle Tex has proven to be an effective tool for winning new business and communicating with colleagues.
“You can meet some great contacts on a dog walk. It’s a natural icebreaker and you can find yourself striking up conversations with strangers in a park, that would simply not happen otherwise. I met a new private jet client recently while on a run,” comments Adam Twidell from PrivateFly.
“Tex gets me – or someone else in the team – out of the office, even on the busiest days. I’ve had some of my best meetings with colleagues when walking to the park, getting a breath of fresh air. You can’t be chained to your desk when your dog needs a walk.”