Michigan businesses going to the dogs!

Since the beginning of time, animals have worked alongside their human counterparts. Be it in the field, guarding property or on the hunt, canines have earned their place as man’s best friend.

Today, the same holds true in the modern workplace. You’ll find our furry friends (cats, too!) eagerly greeting customers or simply curled up under a desk. Clients enjoy seeing them, and the benefits to employees are clearly evident.

Researcher Randolph Barker (actual last name) has done an extensive study on the pet-human connection. His findings will make your tails wag. Barker concludes that having pets in the workplace provides the following:

  • Lowers levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol;
  • Helps you focus;
  • Increases creativity, production and overall “being nice to each other;” and
  • Reduces blood pressure.

Still not convinced? Let’s turn to some of the nation’s top businesses who have served as pioneers in the pet-friendly movement.

Google, with its Ann Arbor headquarters, has an enviable culture in many ways, including a welcome mat for dogs. In fact, its Code of Conduct reads, “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.” Even before the official policy, Googlers showed up to work with their dogs in tow.

Also among notable companies with open doggy door policies are Amazon, Etsy, Bark & Co. (of course), and Refinery29. All credit pets for adding to their culture, reducing stress and enhancing staff communication.

A little closer to home is our company, Edge Partnerships. A marketing, PR and advertising agency located in Michigan’s capital city, the office on any given day could have up to eight canines. There’s Maggie (Yorkie), Penny (GWHP), Caesar (Mastiff/Terrier), Bradford (Terrier), Chucho (Lab), Daisy (Airedale) and the Bonnie (Labradoodle).

Before you think we’ve totally gone to the dogs, only two Edge-dogs are full-timers – Bonnie and Daisy. As the senior dog, Bonnie taught Daisy all the ins and outs of work life, including treat locations and the difference between the recycling and trash bins.

At Edge, the Golden Rules also apply to our canine Edgers: Treat other dogs (and people) as you’d like to be treated. So, aggression is saved for our clients’ ad campaigns and not tolerated in the workplace. There was the one unfortunate incident involving Jeb, an aging German Shorthair Pointer, and an unpleasant delivery person. Luckily, no one was injured, and Jeb started enjoying his retirement soon thereafter

Bonnie, Edge’s longest-serving canine

Bonnie, Edge’s longest-serving canine

Gold Rule #2 involves … um … #1s and #2s in the office. Never permitted. Any questions?

Common sense is really the only rule regarding pets in the office. Keep your teeth to yourselves and behave. That applies to our dogs, too.

While we love our pets, as a business owners we have to be mindful of our clients’ and visitors’ feelings. Hands down, people have told us they stop by Edge for their daily doggy fix.

“I wish more offices had pets,” said Shaun from our printing partners at Capital Imaging. “Office pets are a rarity, and the people are usually much more relaxed.”

Our local banker stopped by one day with customized mugs bearing our dogs’ breed likenesses. She says she looks for every reason to hand deliver paperwork so she can visit the office dogs. Now, that’s customer service with a dose of puppy love.

Of course, some office environments are not as conducive to furry friends. Again, common sense prevails. As a small business owner, you know what works and what doesn’t in your offices. You also know what brings you and your staff happiness as the lines between work and home continue to blur.

For those considering a pet-friendly workplace, a good read is Dogs at Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog Friendly Workplaces. A Google search of online resources turns up a kennel-full of articles, both pro and con.

Do your homework and, unless the dog decides to eat it, create the environment where both two-legged and four-legged team members thrive.

Lorri Rishar