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Dogs at Work: Doggy Distraction or Puppy Productivity?

career advise

It’s 9 am and you’re about to sit down at your desk and start work. Good on you. But wait – first, you need to make a coffee. Oh, but now Janice needs you to answer a question. Shahrom wants to tell you about his epic weekend, and your Whatsapp is beeping off the hook from all your friends stuck on the latest MRT breakdown. It would be rude to ignore them, right?

There are distractions all over the office. Some of them are external, while others are actually deemed part of your job – such as email – but can be a huge productivity killer.

According to a study, 75% of bosses say two or more hours are lost every day because employees are distracted. The biggest culprits cited were smartphones, the Internet and office gossip, but it’s not exactly like you can get rid of those things, right? It doesn’t always work to simply block access to Facebook or yell at Mei Li when she goes over to chinwag with Fauzie.

Instead, what you can do is introduce methods of productive working that might be deemed a distraction, but actually have the opposite affect.

Yep, we’re talking about dogs.

It might seem as though pet-owning employees are better off leaving Lucky at home. Won’t he just bark, poo everywhere, and encourage everyone to take millions of puppy #selfies?

In actual fact, research has shown that pets in the office can make people more productive. One survey found 81% of HR leaders and 67% of employees said allowing pets at work increased productivity. Plus, 88% of staff said they felt morale was improved.

Yep, that furry little companion is not only cute; he’s a loveable, productivity-driving stress-buster.

Here’s why allowing pets – most likely dogs – in the office can work for you, rather than against you:

Dogs are stress relievers: This been scientifically proven, but you only need to cuddle a puppy for a few seconds to understand the effect it has on cortisol levels. There’s a reason some hospitals have pet programmes and why pet therapy is a thing – dogs make people feel good.

It could work as a retention tool: According to this study, 53% of staff at non-animal-friendly workplaces would be more likely to stay in their jobs if they were allowed to bring Fido to work.

It will make your staff like you better: Yep, one survey found that employees began to enjoy their job more and liked their bosses better for allowing them to bring their pets into work.

It’s a more productive break to play with a dog than to pop outside for a smoke: Better for the heart and for your lungs. Plus, even though you might take more regular breaks with a puppy in your cubicle, it could mean the time spent working is more productive because of it.

However, before you start inviting all your staff to bring in their pets, keep in mind the following things to get your office puppy ready.

1. Set guidelines
Not every pet or every workplace will be suitable for an office environment. Work with HR to get rules set in place for things like how much time can be spent taking breaks with animals, etc. Like any new programme or policy at work, it has to have guidelines around it for it to be effective.

2. Make sure any pets – dogs or otherwise – are properly trained
It will become a distraction if the dogs in the office bark incessantly or require constant clean up.

3. Get everyone on board
If the majority of people in your office are not keen on the idea, don’t push it. Instead of it becoming a productivity booster, it will become something that’s a distraction and morale downer. Not because of the dogs necessarily, but because the boss didn’t listen to what staff actually wanted.

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