Bring Your Dog to Work Every Day: Use This Science to Convince Your Boss

An engineer holds a dog inside his office.
Ashton Doulabi, an engineering manager at Procore, holds a dog named Penelope inside the Procore Technologies office. Photo courtesy of Procore Technologies

Heather Barnhart frequently posts videos of her coworkers on Snapchat. They tend to roam underneath desks, even when they are supposed to be on a leash.

That’s because they are dogs belonging to her human co-workers, and they are present with the blessing of Barnhart’s employer, Procore Technologies.  

Barnhart, paid social marketing specialist for cloud-based construction software company Procore Technologies in Carpinteria, California, doesn’t own a dog of her own. “There’s really nothing better than walking in and being greeted by a dog when you get home, but with dogs in the workplace, you get to experience that multiple times a day,” she said.

Procore’s headquarters has an open office floor plan and permits dogs in the office at any time.

Along with endless vacation time and flexible work hours, allowing dogs at work is an example of a quirky workplace benefit designed to entice potential employees and drive success.

And there’s some hefty science to back up the benefits of doggie deskwork.

special health report from Harvard Medical School showed that dog ownership is a top contributor to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. Dog owners also tend to be more active, leading to lower body mass index.

The calming effect that pups tend to have on humans can also lend a hand when dealing with stress. According to the Harvard Medical School report, dog owners experience less cardiovascular reactivity during stressful situations.

Say Hello to Your New Canine Coworker

A dog attends a meeting with its owner at Procore Technologies.
A dog named Charles hangs out at the Procore Technologies research and development team lunch-and-learn meeting. Photo courtesy of Procore Technologies

While the science of ownership shows positive health results, what does this mean for pets and productivity while working?

study completed by Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees showed an increase in job satisfaction when dogs were present.

“Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” said principal investigator Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D., professor of management in the VCU School of Business. “The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.”

Researchers used saliva samples taken throughout the workday to determine the amount of stress hormone levels among employees. Stress levels increased drastically when owners had to leave their dogs at home compared to the days that their dogs accompanied them to work.

Barker further validated the study’s research, stating, “Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations and may enhance organizational satisfaction and perceptions of support.

He went on to note that company policy should dictate that only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets get the job.

Dogs at Procore Technologies, for example, must be “Procore Certified” — potty-trained and up-to-date on shots — and stay near the owner’s work area for the duration of their visit.

And a happy, stress-free employee will produce better results. When asked if pets tend to help or hinder workplace performance at her office, Barnhart said, “I think they definitely help. It’s nice to be able to take quick little breaks to play with the dogs, especially on bad days or when you start to get stressed.”

Morgan Pritchett is an unofficial dog sitter in her spare time and has been known to run down three flights of stairs just to hold a puppy for five minutes. When she’s not obsessing over the presence of canine companions, Morgan is usually drinking way too much coffee or finishing up a puzzle at home.

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