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Beware of the dogs – the staff are questionable too

Pug at laptop

So, as most of you know, we have two dogs in our office with us on most days. Odin and Freya, both greyhounds, officially belong to Espen, but loyalties tend to shift slightly depending on who has the treats on each particular day. As a dog-lover, I was beyond thrilled to hear of this perk that came with my new job. As a company, we really enjoy having our canine department around, and here’s why:

1) Stress levels

Everyone has days where they’re ready to tear their hair out in frustration, which in the long run can have a detrimental effect on health. Being able to take 5 (okay 10!) minutes out to give the dogs some attention allows me to decompress and go back to my desk with my mind a bit clearer. Plus, it’s hard to remain stressed when you have this across the room from you!

Freya on back

“Pets at work can help employees to relax, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure, which can decrease absenteeism and improve staff morale,” confirms Terri Bodell, a consultant clinical psychotherapist and stress expert. “Not only that, but employees that take a break to walk their dog seem to return to work in a more productive and positive frame of mind.”

Not only does it benefit us, but the dogs too. All dog owners will sympathise with the moment you leave the house and your pooch is looking at you as if they’re unsure if you’ll ever return home to them. It’s heart-wrenching. (Most) canines thrive on company (not to be confused with constant attention) so being around people during the day can reduce their anxiety. Not only this, but owners don’t need to worry about them during the day.
This is particularly true of our two, who can get a bit stressed when they can’t see Espen for an extended period of time. They know the boundaries though!

They aren’t allowed in specific areas of our office (namely the meeting room after Odin disgraced himself in there on one of his first days here), but you’ll often find Freya either cuddling the radiator or shuffling round the floor looking for the coolest spot on a hot day.

2) Client Reaction

We’ve (touch wood) yet to have a client who has run screaming for the hills when they’ve come into our office. I should probably mention now that one of the nicest traits that Odin and Freya possess is their relaxed nature. They mainly sleep through the day with the exception of being called and going for walks. In fact, when I came to Primate for my initial interview, I didn’t even realise they were here. Terri Bodell claims that “…it can also be good for team bonding and office dynamics. Pets in a workplace can help promote social interaction and help people collaborate more effectively.” We find that the dogs can be a good starting point of conversation as they sometimes like to greet people at the door.

Freya and Odin on bed

3) Breaks are not optional

Who hasn’t been absorbed in a task, only to look up and realise it’s 3pm and you haven’t left your desk all day? Having the dogs means we have a regular alarm (a puppy eyed staredown, demonstrated above by Freya) that alerts us to the fact it is 1 o’clock. Odin and Freya are pretty intelligent, but they haven’t quite mastered the modern WC yet, meaning that staying in the office all day isn’t an option. We’ve spent many an lunchtime taking a walk and discussing projects, and sometimes just having debates about news/ politics/ life in general. There’s something lovely about seeing them get so excited by a new ‘squeaky’ and run at their full speed – which is pretty impressive! In fact, on the days they have company and stay at home, I genuinely miss their presence!

4) Personality

Having an office that presents an informal feel to it is something that we’re proud of here at Primate. We believe that being comfortable in your environment improves your productivity, and if you pop in on an average day, you’ll see us in jeans and converse (sometimes even shoeless in mine, Bart and Tymon’s case) yet still working effectively. Many of our clients have commented on the dogs, and I think it reassures people that we’re humans, not just a soulless group of people. We pride ourselves on having a real and genuine relationship with our clients.

5) They keep our floors really clean

Well, they drop the biscuit crumbs, they should clean it up!

Now, we’re not saying that office pets will work for everyone. I don’t think it’s fair to have one because you think it’s fun, the benefits should be equal to owner and pet, I strongly believe there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. I don’t think pets should be able to roam  the office as they please, and it actually benefits most dogs to have a space that is ‘theirs’ to return to. Espen has them trained, and we all adhere to his rules, so they know who is boss around here. We wouldn’t have dogs if any staff members were frightened of them, and we ALWAYS check with our clients as they come in to see if they mind. Just because you know an animal’s temperament doesn’t make it any more reassuring for someone who has a fear of them. I can’t imagine not having office pets now – life would be far too normal. Do you have any office pets? Or do you disagree with them in general? Lets us know!

Image Credit: Akane Yamada

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Author: Sarah Limond

Sarah is often mistaken for a Powerpuff Girl.

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