One of the nation’s top research universities, Virginia Commonwealth University, has found that taking your dog to work reduces stress. A comprehensive study reported in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that pet owners who brought their dogs to work reported less stress and better morale.
The study was conducted at Replacements, Ltd. a North Carolina company which allows employees to bring their4 dogs to work. Having visited the facility, I can attest to the fact that it is very pleasant and somewhat comforting to see all sorts of dogs wandering around the facility.
Of course the majority of dogs are in the office area and there are rules. Dogs must be friendly, well behaved and have all their appropriate health vaccines.
The criteria for the research
In the VCU study all employees at the company were divided into three categories: those who had dogs and brought them to work, those who had dogs and did not bring them to work and those who did not have dogs.
Stress levels were measured by daily employee surveys and by testing employee’s saliva to determine the levels of stress hormones.
At the beginning of the work day all three employee groups had hormone levels about the same. Later in the day the employees who brought their dogs to work said they felt less stressed and the hormone levels confirmed this conclusion.
However, hormone levels increased both for people who had dogs but did not bring them to work and for those employees who did not have dogs.
In addition to the benefit noted among the dog owners, other employees also reported that having the dogs around produced a boost to employee morale.
Several years ago USA Today did a survey and found that about 20% of U.S. companies allow dogs in the office.
Other benefits found as well
Stress relief was not the only benefit to employees found by the study. Dogs were found to open communications between employees that did not exist when the dogs were absent. In some cases very stressed employees asked if they could take another employee’s dog for a walk to relieve tension.
Finally many employees found that they would spend more time in the office when their dog was with them. Not having to worry about the animal or needing to get home to feed or walk the dog meant that employees were more comfortable staying at their jobs longer.