How would you feel about a colleague bringing their pet to your workplace? Maybe you’re having a ruff time, feline a bit down, and a furry friend would brighten up your day. Perhaps a yapping mutt would be a cat-astrophic distraction, leaving you fur-ious by the end of the day.
Following Brexit, last week our politicians got down to serious business, and the competition for “arguably the most sought after title in politics” was underway.
No, not leader of the Labour Party, but the Westminster Dog of the Year competition, now in its twenty fourth year. The halls of power in the UK are riddled with cats from Larry to Gladstone – so why not your workplace?
Read more: Labour secures triumph in the all-important Westminster dog contest
According to research from Reed.co.uk, about 8 per cent of UK companies currently allow their employees to bring pets into the workplace.
Not just cats and dogs either, anything from rabbits to fish, lizards and tortoises make it into a minority of offices. In the same study, almost half of UK workers surveyed said they would work better if they had a pet by their side.
The companies which allow pets at work say doing so is a non-financial benefit that speaks to the growing demand among workers for work-life balance.
Supposedly people are more friendly and approachable when a pet is present in the office. Research from psychologists at Central Michigan University found that the presence of a pet is “more likely to increase cooperation and other positive behaviours among members of work groups”.
Nestlé, owner of pet food brand Purina, has allowed employees to bring pets into its office for some time now. It makes for a “warmer and more sociable” atmosphere where employees from different departments who would usually have little or no interaction stop to exchange dog chatter.
Pets at work don’t just improve sociability and morale. A review in the British Journal of Health Psychology found evidence that dog owners have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and are less likely to have minor and serious health problems.
Taking a few minutes to walk and play with a dog is a natural stress reliever and a good way of staying fit. You might be more inclined to stretch six pairs of legs on your lunch break and get that bit of exercise you’ve been missing out on.
According to research from Virginia Commonwealth University, having a pooch around can also bring mental health benefits to employees. They found that workers who brought their dog to work reported feeling notably less stressed than those who did not.
Despite the perceived benefits, there’s clearly many reasons pets don’t often make it into workplaces. Primarily, a barking dog would be very irritating, as would a cat walking across your keyboard (as anyone who owns one will confirm).
Secondly, around 10 per cent of people are allergic to animal fur, which on top of the potential for worms and fleas, poses a risk health and safety conscious businesses would rather avoid.
It’s fair to say that the City is already dog-eat-dog: most jobs come with a long list of responsibilities – would you really want any more?
If you paws for thought (sorry), the potential for distraction could lose you time and money. In an industry that frowns upon brown shoes, bringing a pet to work would be barking mad.
(I wholeheartedly apologise for the awful puns)