Workplaces Offer Pet Friendly Environments

Most everyone at one time or another has experienced stress at work. But there’s at least one central Ohio company hoping its pet policy will reduce workplace tension.

Rob Vogt, a partner at the real estate marketing research firm, Vogt, Williams and Bowen, tried to get Maggie, a young chocolate Labrador, to go play. But Maggie was more interested in what was going on around her.

Maggie is one of about half-a-dozen dogs that can be seen walking around the office. Employees of the firm are allowed to bring their dogs to work.

When the firm opened a few years ago, it was small, and included the three partners and a few administrative staff members. So Vogt decided to bring in Bart, his Tervuren Belgian Shepherd.

“We brought him in one day, he enjoyed it, we enjoyed it. And we thought what the heck we’ll keep it. And after that everyone decided to bring their dog in as well. And after a while everyone decided to bring their dog in as well,” Vogt said.

Vogt said as the company grew, so did the number of dogs around the office.

“Newer employees are ecstatic to hear that we are a pet friendly office. They think it’s just wonderful to be able to walk in and have a dog at their feet; somebody that comes up and licks their toes or goes after a tennis ball. They think it’s wonderful. It’s a great environment,” Vogt said.

But Vogt said there is one person who opted out of the pet friendly environment. He said that employee found it difficult to concentrate with a dog in their office. So the dogs are kept separate from that work area.

While other employees like having dogs at their feet, what do clients think about it?

“I would have to say that over 90 percent of the clients that come in have responded very favorably to the environment. And if they don’t enjoy it then we just don’t bring the dogs in. We keep them in another part of the building. So that seems to have worked out. There’s been really no complaints. We’re happy,” Vogt said.

Administrative assistant June Davis is a dog lover, and enjoys having them around.

“They make it relaxing I think. I notice when people just get up and as they walk by to go to another office or to do a task, they just lean over and stop for a moment, pet. Sure it relaxes them. It does me. I’ll stop sometimes just to do that. It’s really nice. I like it,” Davis said.

And Davis is correct about dogs’ soothing nature. A Program Coordinator at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Ohio State University, Jennifer Brandt, said research shows human stress levels decrease when animals are in the work place.

“I have several clients who are allowed to take their pets to work and interestingly they are less stressed. And they feel more relaxed dealing with difficult clients,” Brandt said.

And Brandt said employees are more productive when their pets are at work with them.

“But they actually say often they’ll stay later for work because one they don’t have to worry about racing home and getting their dog for a walk or taking their dog out to potty,” Brandt said.

Kim Newman, who takes her dog into work, has also noticed a positive behavioral effect in her dog.

“From bringing him here he’s really coming out of his shell. He’s developing a lot into a more adjusted dog through being able to socialize with new people and new dogs and new experiences. It’s great for him and for me,” Newman said.

While the pet arrangement at Vogt, Williams and Bowen might not work at every office, it works there. And Vogt said as long as there are no allergy problems, Bart and the canines will be at work every week.