Lindsay Bumps, a global marketing specialist at Ben & Jerry’s, is the first to say that Spock, her 10-year-old French bulldog, is an office favorite. And that’s quite a feat considering that, on an average workday (pre-pandemic), nearly 45 pups were brought to work at the South Burlington, Vermont, ice cream company.
“Everyone knows Spock,” says Bumps, also “Mom” to Sadie, a six-month-old French bulldog puppy. “People will come over to my desk and visit him. They pay attention to him first and say hi to me second.”
Not only has Bumps saved money bringing Spock to work—she estimates it would cost up to $40 per day for her to hire a midday dog walker—but she feels as if a dog-filled office boosts morale.
“Having dogs around creates a sense of community and strengthens relationships between co-workers,” says Bumps, who is also a certified veterinary technician. “If someone feels stressed, they can just take a break and sit on the floor with a dog.”
While just 7% of companies nationwide currently allow employees to bring their dogs to work, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, that number may increase as CEOs catch on to the employee health benefits of having dogs at the office. For example, workers who bring their dogs to work have been found to have lower hormonal stress levels overall, according to a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University.
And, given the Great Resignation occurring from coast to coast, allowing your dog to spend the day sleeping under your desk might be an added lure to getting employees to come back to the office, says Erica Keswin, a workplace strategist and author of Bring Your Human to Work, which focuses how to create work environments that are good for people and an overall business.
In addition, research shows that those in pet-friendly workplaces feel more engaged with their work than those in non-pet-friendly settings, according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute. “When your job allows you to bring your dog to the office, you might feel more connected to the company’s mission,” Keswin says.
Yet, there are some important things to consider before inviting dogs to your office. Managers should survey employees to make sure they don’t have dog dander allergies or phobias (remember, not everyone likes dogs) and should put a plan in place to handle dogs that are perpetual barkers or pee-ers (save the potted plants!).
“It’s not unreasonable to make it a rule that if pets are going to be allowed in the office, they need to be well-behaved, potty-trained and vaccinated,” Keswin says.
Once this is ironed out, just think of all the levity dogs can add to an office environment. One of the daily moments of joy at Fi, a New York City-based dog brand, is watching one of the 10-15 dogs who come to the office routinely drag logs from the conference room fireplace, says Katie Amos, a product lead at the company. “They consider it their own personal treasure trove of sticks,” says Amos, who brings her two dogs, Gary and Maude, to work every time she goes into the office. “During our weekly meetings, there’s inevitably this one golden retriever, Jack, under the table shredding the bark off the logs. It’s something we all laugh about!”
This, of course, is totally welcome at a dog company but could be considered distracting in other work environments. So again, it’s important for managers to weigh the pros and cons depending on their individual teams and office spaces.
In the end, even the most devoted dog person knows that bringing your dog to work is only one way to feel valued, says Jenn Lim, author of Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact. “It’s all about how values are lived (or not) during day-to-day interactions or heated discussions in the boardroom,” she says. “Ultimately, it comes down to making sure employees feel cared for by leadership.”
Millie content is licensed from Meredith Corporation, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle and more.
Lambeth Hochwald is a New York City-based writer, editor and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.
Inset Photographs: Courtesy Subjects