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largest companies have embraced the idea, including Apple, Amazon and Google. TheWall Street Journal has reported an increasing number of psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers using office dogs to provide stress relief for visiting patients.More than 20 per cent of work places in America are dog friendly, but the world leader is Taiwan, where more than half of all work places welcome man’s best friend with open arms. While there’s no doubtmany dogowners will see advantages


to taking their pooch to the office, what’s in it for the business? Employee satisfaction and an edge in recruiting staff, accord- ing to a survey by Dogster.comand Simply Hired, which found that two-thirds of dog owners would work longer hours and a third would take a pay cut if they could take their dog to the office. And nearly half those surveyed said they would willing to change jobs in order to be able to take their dog to work. Even those who don’t own dogs benefit from the presence


of a well-behaved canine in the workplace.Astudy by Central Michigan University has found that working teams with a dog rank higher on qualities of trust, team cohesion and intimacy than dog-less teams.


Happy tails Lawrence also believes an office dog gives his company a busi- ness edge. “We’ve had a little bit of extra publicity: photos of Bronte that we’ve added to Facebook and our blog have been widely viewed and commented on, and employees and con- tractors place pictures on their own website with positive com- ments about our workplace.” AnotherAustralianemployer happy to tell people it has gone


to the dogs is RedBalloon, where company spoodle Dexter has an official position as head of security. Employee experience manager Megan Bromley says there was never a question of whether or not there should be anoffice dog at RedBalloon. “For most of us, Dexter has always been a part of the office envi- ronment – he was here before we started!When RedBalloon was muchsmaller and working fromfounderNaomi Simson’s house, it was normal to have the family dog roaming around.” ExecutivePAMagazine editor Louis Allen has also shared


office space with a canine co-worker. He found that having a dog about was good for staff morale, except on those days when it was so busy he had to eat lunch at his desk. “The dog would sit atmyfeet making appeals formyfood with sad eyes. It was so hard to resist.” Andit’s not just dogs in theworkplace.NewYork’s Algonquin


Hotel has just appointed its tenth felineemployee, a ragdoll cat named Matilda III who has the run of the hotel – with the obvious exception of the kitchen.Matilda,who has her own web- site and has appeared on CBS in her capacity as “directfurr” of guest relations, even has her own staff, being ably assisted by human Alice de Almeida, who describes herself as executive assistant, ghostwriter and “opposable thumb”.


No dogs allowed Sadly, nomatter howmuch support there is for allowing pets in the workplace, for some offices a pet-friendly policy is just not possible.About 15 per cent of the population is allergic to dogs or cats, although some studies show that almost half of those allergic still love the animals so much they have them in their family home. Pets are also the secondmost common trigger of asthma, and the 10 per cent or so of peoplewho have a dog pho- bia areunlikely towant to bumpinto themunder theiroffice desk. “If you’re looking to introduce an office pet to an already established workplace, I would definitely recommendconsulting


with your people first – you never know who has allergies or phobias, and the last thing you want is people feeling uncom- fortable in the workplace,” Bromely suggests. “But for us, Dexter is as much a part of the business as any of us, and he takes his role as head of security very seriously.” Lawrence agrees that nomatter howmuchof a big softie you


believe your office dog to be, you need to be aware that other people may not see fluffy Fido but rather the Hound of the Baskervilles. “The general rule is that Bronte is not allowed to make staff or visitors to the office feel uncomfortable. If I am meeting with a client, then I’ll make sure they are a dog person first.” But overall, he says, he’s been pleasantly surprised by how


easy it has been to integrate a dog into the office. “She’s a well- behaved dog – at work at least – so we haven’t needed toomany rules.” Like any newmember of staff, Bronte took a little while to settle in, but nowshe’s a valued part of the team. “People go out of their way to give her a pat. I think we all really like work- ing for a company where a dog is part of the furniture.” E


Give them a bone...


Why should your business allow pets at work? The Web Showroom managing director David Lawrence, owner of office dog Bronte (above), suggests ways to appeal to your boss from a business perspective...


1 It engages people –fromcontractors blogging about Bronte to ice-breaking conversations with new clients, an office dog always gets people talking.


1 A recruiting edge –potential staff almost all say they would love to work for a company with an office dog when they see Bronte at the interview.


1 Dog owners are happier at work and spend less time worrying about what is going on at home, particularly if they need to work late.


1 Forget smoke breaks –having an office dog allows people to take mini- breaks to pat the dog, and most people gain a feeling of wellbeing from interacting with the dog. And the dog loves it too.


Would you like to take your dog to work? Would your workplace ever allow it? Let us know: email editor@executivepa.com.au with “Office Dog” in the subject line.


JUNE/JULY 2012 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM.AU 65


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