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A dog’s life at the office

Apr, 2015
Anja Peschel
Wie unser Büro auf den Hund kam

Take a break!

Particularly when times are busy, it is worth remembering the benefits of a good work-life balance. Whenever the flood of emails in my inbox threatens to drown me, and the volume of text waiting to be translated seems endless, so that I don’t even feel I have the time for a cup of tea, there is someone who puts a stop to all the madness: Marley.

Marley joined our small translation company a little over a year ago, and he is extremely conscientious at ensuring that I get some fresh air every few hours. Admittedly, he probably couldn’t care less about my oxygen levels. He’s simply had enough of lying underneath my desk, snoring away and panting a little in his sleep. He just needs to get out. And, as a consequence, so do I. This does not constitute a representative study by any means, but I am certain that I translate more efficiently upon my return from our walks.

A little sunshine

Every morning, upon our arrival at the office, Marley affably follows me around to make sure that all the translators are at their desks. The only male in our team has never been seen in a bad mood, and even the most timid translators have almost become dog-lovers – even though our Croatian-born colleague with German and English roots (so we think) is quite sizeable.

During our daily morning meeting, he likes to get friendly with anyone willing to give him a good scratch. Sometimes he gets a bit too pushy then and has to be banned from the room for lack of constructive contributions.

Fortunately, Marley has never shown the slightest interest in meeting postmen and translation clients coming to our office.

What does science have to say about this?

When I started wondering about whether bringing my dog to the office may cause disruption, the internet provided me with some truly astonishing facts: A dog a the workplace boosts job satisfaction, helps preserve mental health and increases productivity!

A study conducted at Central Michigan University found that dogs at work strengthen mutual trust and promote team work.

Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business established that dogs at the workplace considerably reduce stress levels. Dog owners who bring their furry friend to work have much lower levels of stress hormones in the blood- and lower blood pressure – at the end of the working day than their non-dog-owning peers

And how have companies responded to this news?

The US being the US, companies jump at the chance of boosting productivity: One in five US companies allows its employees to bring their dogs to work. This does not just concern small outfits, but also some large companies, such as Google (a self-declared “dog company”) and Amazon.

In Germany, employers may ban dogs from the workplace, as was recently experienced by 15 Members of the German Parliament, who had requested to bring their canine friends to their offices.

Germany being Germany, there is already a association dedicated to the subject: The German Office Dog Association (Bundesverband Bürohund e.V. is a lobby group aiming to counteract the dramatic rise of mental illness and burnout by promoting the presence of dogs at the workplace. The association is committed to representing the interest of companies, dog owners and dogs alike.

Down, office dog!

Just like anyone else, an office dog needs to know to the do’s and don’ts of office life. Typical canine communication methods such as barking or growling may cause those reduced stress levels to rise again. This is why there are even dog trainers specializing in teaching dogs office-compatible behaviour.

Fortunately, Marley never had to undergo special office training. Once he had got the message about ham sandwiches in people’s bags not being his, we have all been living in utter harmony.

I would like to leave you with an excerpt from Google’s Code of Conduct:

Dog Policy

Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.


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