Studies Reveal Having An Office Dog Or Cat Reduces Stress And Boosts Productivity

Studies Reveal Having An Office Dog Or Cat Reduces Stress And Boosts Productivity

Marie-José Enders studies the relationship between animals and humans at the Open University and is of the view that having an office dog improves the work atmosphere.

How would you feel if you had a cute ball of fur just waiting to welcome you as soon you enter your workplace? Of course, it would be so much better than the mundane routines that one follows every day. You would have a chance to play with the little munchkin while involving yourself in some healthy activity. Having pets in the office is no longer considered a taboo practice and it indeed is productive proves this company. 


The employee of Wallaart & Kusse Public Affairs, Myrthe Kusse shares her experience if having an office cat Sammie. She describes how Sammie waits at her desk to be fed breakfast every morning. This Dutch company employee says, "Until a few years ago, Sammie lived in a student house. But the students had to leave and Sammie needed a new home. A colleague of ours happened to want a cat, but his partner didn't, so we all decided to take on the cat as an office."


It's common practices for bigshot companies like Google to take in office dogs or cats and seems to be the same for a lot of Dutch companies as well. In fact, there are around 75 vacancies at several Dutch companies at the moment which highlight the availability of an office pet. This practice may be a direct result of a research study published by  Virginia Commonwealth University which reveals having a dog in the office reduces the stress experienced.


The researchers went ahead and collected samples of factory workers saliva to check the level of the stress hormone cortisol. The results showed a remarkably reduced amount of cortisol only in the workers who had a dog in their locality, at the end of the day.  "It's definitely good for the work atmosphere to have a dog in the office," said Marie-José Enders, an expert in the relationship between animals and humans at the Open University. "Not only does your cortisol level drop when you stroke a dog; you also produce more of the hormone oxytocin, which makes you feel more relaxed and happy."


Apart from reducing stress, having a pet has several other bonuses. "If your boss is giving you a hard time, a dog can make it easier to put certain situations into perspective. You can just take a bit of space and walk the dog," added Enders. "An animal at work makes people more motivated — they like their work more and they experience less stress." This approach was supported by Esther Jonker, the owner of a cute labradoodle Joep. She also noticed how things were affected by the presence of a pet at her workplace, video marketing company TVMC.


Describing her experience she said, "I've been taking Joep to the office every day for about two years now and he usually lifts the atmosphere considerably. If we're all a bit engrossed in something, he'll notice, he'll pop over and he'll press his nose against you for a stroke." Furthermore, she added, "When we've been very busy working on something, it's nice to play with Joep. "I think it makes us more productive." Jonker also shares how they have a lot of fun when Joep's around. "If you put your bag on the floor and there are treats inside, he always manages to fish them out — and sometimes he steals things, then runs through the whole office with a stack of paper or something," she said.


The only downside to this culture is talking their pets out for a walk, "especially in the winter" Jonker said. However, both Jonker and Kusse agree on the fact that these office pets are very helpful in boosting the morale of the employees. To this Kusse said, "We often laugh together about Sammie. She's scared of the printer and loves to climb into any box she can get her paws on. She often comes to the office with mice too, although some aren't too keen on that! It's just entertaining to watch her. Taking care of Sammie together works well for team spirit."


Having an office pet can always help you connect with your teammates a little better. Behavioral psychologist Lotte Spijkerman said, "They're a great ice-breaker." Spijkerman also gives an insight into what kind of pet one should go for. Since we all look for some peace and calmness it's always better to get a pet that doesn't require much maintenance like fishes. While watching fishes swim can be very relaxing having a hamster may not be the most ideal choice.


Recommended for you