2008 June 24 Tuesday
Working Dogs In the Workplace

Google and Amazon are two high profile companies with dog friendly workplaces. This is a growing trend. Dog friendly workplaces are draw for prospective employees.

"There are more companies that are shifting toward offering dog-friendly work policies because they can use that to attract employees," says Cameron Woo, publisher of Bark magazine. "People are realizing that the button-down white shirt and tie office environment that our parents grew up with doesn't have to [continue]."

According to the Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM) 2007 Benefits Survey, 6 percent of respondents allow employees to bring pets to work, up from 4 percent in 2006. A newly released survey of 1,000 adults by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association found that 17 percent are permitted to bring pets to the workplace.

Advocates of the policy believe it benefits both employers and employees. People working long days can bring an element of their home life into the workplace, while those who work regular hours needn't get antsy about dashing home to walk the dog. Another plus: Not having to pay for a dog-sitter.

The dogs are seen as breaking down barriers of communications and lowering stress.

One has to consider pack politics when choosing which dogs can stay in the office.

Policies vary from company to company. Many are thorough and clearly delineated. (Sermo, for instance, has an etiquette memo and stipulates that contract workers can't bring their dogs to work because they'll disrupt the harmony of the established pack.)

Whether that makes sense depends on how often regular workers bring their dogs and whether all dogs interact. Even in smaller companies people can be split up between buildings and packs can be pretty small.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 June 24 07:51 PM  Economics Labor

Irish Savant said at June 25, 2008 2:07 PM:

This facility won't survive. Muslims will be 'offended'

Shrewsbury said at June 25, 2008 4:58 PM:

What a great idea. I know nothing increases my productivity like copious flea bites amidst an environment of crazed barking and dubious stenches....

dchamil said at June 26, 2008 7:12 AM:

Eventually some dog will poop on the floor or bite someone. Who cleans up? Who gets sued?

Omphale said at June 26, 2008 2:44 PM:

I worked for several years for a company that was extremely dog friendly. I enjoyed this aspect of the company; but then again, I really like animals. I thought having dogs around made the place friendlier and gave it a happier atmosphere.

The company itself had an official policy (posted on the front door) that the only animals allowed admittance were certified service dogs (for blind or handicapped people), but the senior management higher-ups were (unofficially) allowed to bring their dogs to work provided that the canines stayed in the person's office. Since all the higher-ups had large well-lighted offices with windows, this was not a problem. The dogs stayed in the owner's office with their food bowls, dog beds, toys, etc. and did not bother the other employees. The company had large rooms used specifically for meetings that were off-limits to dogs. All the dogs that I knew were very friendly, both to humans and other dogs. The dogs were kept on leashes went they went out for walks.

There were never any problems with fleas or "accidents". The dogs were absolutely not allowed to run around and form a pack -- I'm surprised that the company mentioned (Serco) would allow this. That's a recipe for chaos and fights for dominance (among the dogs, I mean -- but possibly among the humans too, knowing the people in that company -- they were very status-oriented and hierarchical).

Omphale said at June 26, 2008 2:49 PM:

I would like to mention, also, that the senior management higher-ups who brought their dogs to work were all white people. I never saw any non-white upper managers bring their dog to work -- perhaps they did not own any dogs.

Also, at this company, there were several power couples who were upper-management; both the husbands and wives had PhDs and several other credentials. They were well-educated, very accomplished smart people. No doubt these folks met in grad school and continued their careers, with the result that they were senior managers at the company, with dogs -- and no children. Of course, the dogs were their "children".

I would see these people leave for home at the end of the day (with their dogs), and think to myself that certainly if they can afford two or three dogs, that they could also afford some human children. (I read somewhere that it costs $600 per year to feed and care for a dog). I also want to note that the non-white senior managers at this company, who were mostly of Chinese or Indian descent, while they might not have had dogs, did in fact have children (the managers that I knew, anyway). The Indians were Hindus; I don't think any Muslims worked for the company.

What is wrong with these well-educated white people? Why no kids? It's almost like someone should institute a pro-child propaganda campaign to influence them. If the treatment of their dogs is any indication, these white managers would have made great parents; they were very caring and nurturing toward their dogs.

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