Dogs Improve Office Productivity

office productivityAnyone who has ever owned a dog knows they're good company to have around the house and can make you more relaxed. They're good company at work, too, according to new research cited in The Economist.

Researchers at Central Michigan University did an experiment with 12 groups of four people each to see how they worked in a collaborative office environment, and found that the groups with a dog underfoot worked more collaboratively than those without. Those with a dog in the room they were working in during the experiment ranked their teammates more highly on measures of trust, team cohesion and intimacy than those who didn't have a dog with them.

It took actual college research to find out that dogs can help people work together? That canines are called "man's best friend" for a reason? If you have a dog, you've probably seen how they can get people to interact more with each other, simply because there's a soft, furry animal in the room that wants to be petted.

Man's best friend, indeed

Having dogs at work help employees communicate better, said Scott Kolbe, owner of KolbeCo Marketing Resources in St. Louis, Mo. "People tend to approach dogs before they are willing to approach another person," Kolbe said in an e-mail. "It breaks the ice for new people walking in the door, and helps to alleviate tension if conflict arises between co-workers."

Sherri Alper, a psychotherapist, has seen how her dog can help people heal. After greeting each patient at Alper's group practice, the dog, Barney, remains under her desk. One day a man became particularly upset during a session, and Barney "walked over to him and placed his paws on the man's knees, gazing at him with his soulful look. It was poignant. And healing," said Alper's husband, Bob Alper, in an e-mail to AOL Jobs.

Dogs help create a playful work environment, said Isaac Oates, a product manager at Etsy who brings his dog to work often. "The only thing where he really injects himself into the work schedule is that if I go into a conference room, he shows up after a few minutes and paws at the door until I let him in," Oates said. "Everyone I work with knows this, so the person nearest the door will open it to let him in... then he lays under the conference table. This is even true at interviews, so prospective candidates have an opportunity to interact with him."

A creative spark

Many businesses that rely on daily creativity allow dogs at work, as AOL Jobs found many public relations and marketing firms that allow dogs. Taking the office dog for a walk is a good excuse to get outside and clear the mind. Sheldon Perkins, a partner in the Yes! Marketing Group in Yarmouth, Maine, said animals are extremely conducive to productivity at work.

"Having animals in the office is very grounding. It's hard to stay trapped in a negative mindset over some small issue like a software bug, a lost file, a last-minute client request, etc. when there's a snoring dog a few feet away, toes twitching, and lips puffing," Perkin said. "It really does very often pull me out of a short-term funk, leaving me chuckling with everything back in perspective. Animals infuse that all-important stream-of-consciousness element that keeps people grounded in reality.

"And in a creative business like ours it's important to keep a fresh mind and get up and move around once and a while," Perkins continued. "The need for walks during the day actually enhances productivity. I often solve problems I've been wrestling with while I'm out walking the dog or giving the cat (currently George) a workout. And two four-hour intensely focused sessions in front of the computer with a nice walk in the middle is far more productive than one long eight-hour grind."

More benefits

Divorce lawyer Linda A. Kerns said having her 11-year-old Shetland sheepdog in her office in Center City, Philadelphia, has a calming effect on her clients, which must be a good thing to have when discussing divorces.

Having a dog at work can also save money, as Katie Stinchon discovered by bringing her year-old, mini Australian shepherd into work at Teak Media Communications in South Boston. Bringing her dog to work allows her to work longer hours late into the evening, saving her $280 a month in dog-walking services. Her dog, Murphy, also helps other workers by being a stress reducer and hanging out at the desk of the person who is the most stressed on any given day, Stinchon said.

Some businesses allow dogs at work because they're a big part of what they do every day., which makes travel arrangements for pets moving worldwide, lets employees bring their pets to work. It has an air-conditioned "doggy office" with two sizes of doggy doors that is fenced in so dogs have their own mini-office, and the area has a pool for the dogs, said Rachel Farris, PR and new media director at the company near Austin, Texas.

"It's great for us, particularly working in a pet-centric company, to be able to go and blow off steam during lunch by throwing the tennis ball or just hanging out with them," Farris said. "Having dogs around helps to remind us why we do what we do, even though we don't always get to see the pets we're moving."

Next: Amateur Animal Trainer: Put Your Pet to Work in the Movies >>

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This is another case of manipulated statistics. This so-called research is of the same type conducted by the woman in Ireland who "proved" petting a dog could lower blood pressure. Of course, the only people who pet dogs are dog lovers and I'll bet dollars to donuts the same was true in this study – only dog lovers were included. The majority of Americans do not own dogs, many people are allergic to them, others are afraid of them, and there are a LOT of people who simply dislike dogs. From the results of this "research," it is obvious not one person who was allergic to, afraid of, or disliked, dogs was included in the study. People who cannot work without a dog around has a serious problem and instead of catering to their ridiculous whims, employers should either fire or send such people to a mental health care professional!

March 06 2013 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We had this "doggy" crap at my old job. It was a total disaster.
Pee and poop everywhere, the office STUNK, clients were jumped on, slobbered on, humped and had their crotches sniffed.
You could not enter the building without one of them running up to you and peeing. The entry was carpeted and the smell was beyond belief.
Clients who expressed a preference to not be subjected to dogs were dropped. Big mistake; yes, let's give up business because the clients don't like our pets jumping on them and humping their legs and urinating at the sight of them.
Underlings were stuck with the care of others' dogs and were resentful; this was not in their job descriptions.
They did a bad job and one of the worst behaved dogs was "accidentally" let out of the building and became road kill (though the rest of us secretly celebrated the end of that filthy, rotten beast).
The "little darlings" ate garbage and barfed. They barked non-stop so it was impossible to talk on the phone and just try to have a meeting without Fido scratching at the door and barking his fool head off.
One idiot brought a female in heat to work and was mad when multiple dogs mated with her, which happened in full view of one and all.
The female also dragged her bottom all over the office, leaving a disgusting blood-smeared trail on the carpet.
They ate things that were not food, like paper clips, so supplies disappeared at record levels, and stole any food they could.
You couldn't eat in peace; the greedy pigs were right there, snapping at your food. You had to scarf it in seconds or end up feeding someone's pet for free while you starved.
They fought with each other, usually over who got to eat the turd that one of them just dropped on the floor.
It finally ended when a filthy cur outran the pack and scrambled into a big meeting with its prize, a turd in its mouth, which it proceeded to slurp down in front of us all, so proud that it had beaten the others out to the delectable treat.
Our biggest client was so repulsed she retched and fired us on the spot.
I was one of the people let go in the cutbacks and I didn't even own one of the offending animals that got us into trouble in the first place.
What is it with people bringing dogs EVERYWHERE? They DO NOT have to go everywhere you do.

October 31 2010 at 3:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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