Today is national Bring Your Dog To Work Day – and Britain’s favourite day at the office is hoping to play an important part in bringing Remainers and Brexiters back together.
This morning businesses from across the UK will welcome their dog-loving employees into the workplace along with their loyal (and well-behaved!) four-legged companions. The whole nation is also digesting the vote for Brexit, making for some interesting and divisive office chat.
“Today is obviously an important day for our country. Our hope is that Bring Your Dog To Work Day might provide some light relief to what has been a long and bitter campaign,” explains Mark Hirschel, co-founder of HOWND, the pet company behind the initiative.
“We have always brought our dogs Roxy and Laila to work with us, and they really do provide a positive talking point for teams that are facing tight deadlines or tense situations. Our feeling is that employees across the UK could use such a distraction today!”
But let’s get serious – can dogs make teams work together better?
Since its conception three years ago, Bring Your Dog To Work Day has become a regular staple in the national calendar. Recent figures support this thinking. A survey published this week by a pet food company showed that from 1100 businesses in the UK, 548 of them allowed dogs into the workplace.
Plus, an American study published in 2012 summarised that dogs at work may make a positive difference by reducing stress levels in staff and increasing their levels of job satisfaction.
This a view shared by the company BorrowMyDoggy, which regularly welcomes numerous canines into its headquarters in London. Instead of causing a distraction in the workplace, the company believe a dog-friendly environment leads to happy staff.
“There are so many studies that show the benefits of having dogs in the workplace and we have definitely experienced those benefits first hand,” explains Lynn Unick from BorrowMyDoggy.
“They make us laugh, they make us smile and their contribution to the overall atmosphere in the office is wonderful. I would absolutely encourage other companies to introduce a pet-friendly policy. It’s fantastic for company morale and brings so much happiness into the working day.”
One interesting dynamic of dogs at work is the way they can help establish routines and work roles. Scott Free Films is a company that has experienced this first hand.
Their office dogs have stations next to their owners. This has led to many of the dogs being given their own shadow role in everyday operations – such as Boss (pictured below) who has established a reputation for guarding files.
“All of the dogs in our office building have a part to play in our daily routine. Oscar and Ralph like to hang out at reception, greet visitors and play on the marble floors when the coast is clear,” explains Nancy Ryan from Scott Free Films.
“It’s clear to see that having these dogs in the office boosts morale, productivity and, believe it or not, promotes calmness.”
But the benefits of dogs in the workplace extend beyond employee wellbeing. According to jet hire company PrivateFly, their office labradoodle Tex has proven to be an effective tool for winning new business and communicating with colleagues.
“You can meet some great contacts on a dog walk. It’s a natural icebreaker and you can find yourself striking up conversations with strangers in a park, that would simply not happen otherwise. I met a new private jet client recently while on a run,” explains Adam Twidell from PrivateFly.
“Tex gets me – or someone else in the team – out of the office, even on the busiest days. I’ve had some of my best meetings with colleagues when walking to the park, getting a breath of fresh air. You can’t be chained to your desk when your dog needs a walk.”
Bring Your Dog To Work Day aims to raise money for All Dogs Matter, a charity which rehomes hundreds of dogs every year in London and Norfolk, while promoting the benefits man’s best friend in the workplace.
This year’s event has already seen a number of different organisations support the initiative – including pet product businesses, marketing agencies, a private jet company, an online bingo website and even a regional police force.
Dog-loving celebrities have voiced their support too, including Ricky Gervais and Rachel Riley. The event was so popular last year that the hashtag #BringYourDoToWorkDay trended on Twitter and was mentioned on Instagram over 9,000 times. It also scooped an acclaimed pet industry marketing award for its traction and reach.