US employees have spoken and they want more dogs—and it’s not just for the cute factor. Recent studies demonstrate dog-friendly workplaces can enhance productivity, drive collaboration, and most importantly make us all happier at work.
The contemporary American workplace brings a lot of inherent stressors. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicate that some 40% of all workers today feel overworked, pressured, and squeezed to the point of anxiety, depression—even disease.
Stress isn’t just bad for our health—it’s bad for business. American businesses lose $300 billion annually to lowered productivity, absenteeism, health-care, and related costs stemming from stress. But what if businesses could find an approach to decrease stress while maintaining—or even improving—productivity? Enter dogs.
Given the intensity and stress created in many workplaces, it’s not surprising that employees seek out emotional support at work. In fact, a survey conducted by Rover.com revealed 25% of pet parents who bring their dogs to work value their emotional support as the number one reason they like to keep a dog nearby.
And that emotional support is powerful: In a study conducted by NPR, office workers showed significantly lower stress levels when they were allowed to bring dogs to work. At Rover’s own dog-friendly office, we’ve found dogs aren’t just a stress-reliever: they may be a stress-preventer.
As Executive Director of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection Phil Tedeschi explains, “Beta-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine—among other health targets—increased in both humans and their dogs during time shared, demonstrating that time spent together is physiologically and psychologically beneficial for both species.” In other words, spending time with dogs just…makes us feel better. And when we’re happier, stress can dissipate or not occur in the first place.
But dogs do more than decrease stress: Dogs in the workplace inspire people to reach across teams and work more collaboratively. “Social networks that are developed based on shared concern over animals can lead to increased human-human interaction,” Tedeschi explains.
So bringing a dog from your cubicle into a shared space encourages interaction and camaraderie. At Rover, puppies strut across the conference table in the middle of meetings, and playdates are a great excuse for recruiter, engineers, and social media mavens to get together and chat—which can result in great ideas that wouldn’t have otherwise bubbled up. So spending time with dogs doesn’t just make us feel better—it helps us work better.
In fact, Central Michigan University released a study showing that bringing dogs in the workplace resulted in increased trust and collaboration between coworkers. And according to Rover.com, 45% of dog owners working in dog friendly offices say they are more likely to approach a coworker to chat if that coworker has a dog with them.