Businesses across the country are warming up to the idea of letting interaction with pets be a normal part of the work day, but does it show positive results for a company's financial plan?
Smiles and wagging tails come hand in hand
If happiness in the office matters, all evidence points to a resounding yes-to-pets, according to reports by the San Diego Union-Tribune and Time Magazine.
Mia West, owner of West PR in San Diego, says the presence of her bulldog mix Lola helps her and her employees stay calm throughout the workday.
"She comes over, puts her head in your lap. Dogs can sense when you're in a bad mood or you're unhappy or you're in a stressful place, and she reacts to my moods and is just a very loving creature," West told the Union-Tribune.
The trend is not uncommon, especially in this Southern California city, the Union-Tribune notes. While the source says small businesses are often more welcoming to pets than bigger companies, animal supply hub Petco's headquarters in San Diego hosts half of its 565 workers' pets occasionally if not every day. The source reports that employees at companies that allow pets in the office just seem happier, and that observation is backed up by at least one study conducted recently by the Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Business according to Time.
Scientific proof of animal benefits
Professor of management Randolph Barker took charge of the academic study, where he focused on one company that is well known for its pet-welcoming policies. Replacements Ltd., Time says, has had an open door rule since 1997 in terms of pets. The study examined staff levels of cortisol to track how stressed they became throughout the day, and the results were surprising for Barker: Time notes that the study found the most stressed workers were those who had pets but did not bring them to work. Those who had their furry friends with them showed the lowest levels of stress, and people without pets fell in between the owner groups in terms of levels of the stress-indicating hormone.
Barker told Time his findings show a strong link between animal companionship at work and productivity.
"If people feel stress in the workplace, typically research shows that's linked to various behavioral outcomes - lower job performance, poor decision making, work accidents and aggressive behavior," he said. "Having animals around can literally be a buffer [to] these outcomes and may help individuals cope much more effectively with situations that can cause stress in the workplace."
With proper rules established, the Union-Tribune notes, companies that host animals during everyday operations may see visible positive results.