Work can be stressful. Depending on your job, it could even be the reason behind most of your stress. Luckily, lots of companies are interested in improving mental health. Getting an office pet and allowing employees to bring their pets is a unique and effective idea. But does it actually work?
The link between pets and good mental health
There have been lots of studies over the years on how pets affect a person’s mental well-being. One study looked at conditions like depression and PTSD, and found that pets give people a strong sense of stability, consistency, and meaning. This is known as “ontological security.” Recently, a team of researchers gathered a bunch of these past studies and analyzed all the evidence. The pets up for review? Dogs, cats, hamsters, finches, and goldfish. All the participants in the studies had a mental health condition, either officially diagnosed or diagnosed by the person struggling with it. The researchers concluded that pets did indeed help alleviate mental illness symptoms and help people better manage their emotions.
In the workplace
It makes sense that pets would be good at improving mental health in the workplace. A few years ago, the Virginia Commonwealth University conducted a study that revealed people’s stress levels lowered when they were around a dog. Many experts believe dogs (and cats) are especially good stress-relievers in the workplace, and make people feel happier and more relaxed. They will take small breaks to interact with the dog, and get back to work feeling rejuvenated. If an employee feels stressed or anxious, they can play with the pet to get their mind off things for a minute or two. This makes employees more productive.
The pet-friendly office
Currently, not every office allows pets, but there are many that are committed to improving mental health and productivity by accommodating pets. Mars Petcare, a petcare brand that includes Pedigree, have been allowing pets in their office since 2008. Blue Cross, a pet charity, says they’ve been allowing dogs since their founding way back in 1897. Other pet-friendly companies include:
- Amazon’s Seattle headquarters
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Google (only dogs, not cats)
Caring for a pet in the office
To ensure a dog is comfortable and happy in an office setting, it needs to be well-trained. If a dog is uncomfortable in new spaces and around new people, he or she probably isn’t an ideal candidate for an office pet. Assuming the dog is a good fit, he should have food, water, toys, and an area with a bed. Someone in the office (either the dog’s real owner or someone who volunteers) should commit to taking the dog outside, cleaning his space, and taking the dog for a walk. Cats are slightly less high-maintenance and more independent than dogs. However, they will need an area for their litter box that’s clean and not in the way of the office flow. They should also have food, water, and toys.
If your office chooses to allow pets or get an office pet, there should be a sign or something that tells anyone who comes into the office that an animal is there. Clients might have allergies or be afraid of the dog or cat, so it’s important for an office to be aware of that.
One of the reasons why dogs are such good stress-relievers is their sensitivity and compassion. Click here to read about how dogs can sense their person’s emotions.