An office cat or dog won’t just lower your stress levels — it may also boost your productivity
When Myrthe Kusse from the Dutch company Wallaart & Kusse Public Affairs comes to work in the morning, there is always someone to greet them.
Office cat Sammie is sitting on a desk waiting to be fed and take a bowl of fresh water.
“Sammie lived in a dorm until a few years ago,” Kusse said. “But the students had to leave and Sammie needed a new home, one of our colleagues wanted a cat, but his partner did not, so we decided to take the cat instead.”
For large companies like Google, bringing your dog to the office is not unusual, but this seems to be the case for many Dutch companies: there are currently 75 job ads on LinkedIn for Dutch companies that mention a company dog.
Nowadays, having a pet in the office does not seem so unusual – there are actually some advantages. For example, several years ago, research conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University showed that people are less stressed when a dog is present.
The researchers took saliva samples from factory workers and examined the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone. The results showed that only employees with a dog nearby had low cortisol levels at the end of the day.
“It’s really good for the working atmosphere of having a dog in the office,” said Marie-José Enders, who is studying the relationship between animals and humans at the Open University. “Not only does your cortisol level decrease when you attack a dog, but it also produces more oxytocin, a hormone that makes you more relaxed and happier.”
Having pets in the office also has other bonuses
“If your boss makes it difficult, it may be easier for a dog to put specific situations into perspective, just sit back and walk around with the dog,” said Enders. “An animal at work motivates people – they like their work more and experience less stress.”
Esther Jonker, owner of labradoodle Joep, noticed all these effects in the office of the TVM video marketing company where she works.
“I have Joep come to the office every day for about two years now,” he adds. “In general, it creates an explosive atmosphere and if we are all a little bit in a thing, he will notice it, he will notice it.” Come on and he will push his nose against you for a punch. ”
“If we were busy working on something, it’s good to play with Joep,” she said. “I think it makes us more productive.”
Joep also brings a lot of pleasure to the office. “If you put your bag on the floor and it’s delicious, it always manages to get it back – and sometimes it steals things, then it runs around the desk with a pile of paper or something.”
One thing about the configuration that is not so popular?
“Walking,” says Jonker, “especially in winter.”
Nevertheless, Jonker and Kusse think that office animals are also good for team morale.
“We often laugh about Sammie,” Kousse said. “She is afraid of the printer and loves to climb the boxes in which she puts her paws, and she often comes to the office with mice, although some do not really care.” It’s just fun to watch them. Keeping Sammie together works well for team spirit. ”
How do you choose the right pet for your office?
According to behavioral psychologist Lotte Spijkerman, dogs and cats have about the same psychological impact on humans.
“They reduce stress and increase productivity, especially because they interact with you alone, so when you get to work, it reminds you that you may need to take a break,” said the psychologist.
For example, in hamsters, the effect is less pronounced. However, if you do not want to change the litter of the cat or go for a walk with the dog, their maintenance is rather reduced.
“Watching the fish can also be very relaxing,” says Spijkerman. “An aquarium has about the same effect as a wood fire, and the same goes for birds or other natural elements of the office, like plants, and even smells can have a calming effect, with smells citrus fruit to calm down. ”
So, if you want to rest at your workplace, you can opt for many plants or a reed diffuser – or there is another alternative.
You can give a colleague the responsibility of ensuring that people get enough rest, “Spijkerman said. They may tell you from time to time that you need a break or it’s time to take a walk. ”
An office animal can even help you get to know your colleagues faster.
Office animals have another effect that can be critical to the success of your business.
“You are an excellent icebreaker,” said Spijkerman.
“We know in psychology that if you find someone nice, you work with them more quickly, and if someone looks like you because he has a dog, for example, it might be easier to make a deal. ”
Nerdery office dog at the meeting
“People with a dog are perceived as more friendly,” said Enders.
Jonker claims to have observed that Joep had this effect on his customers.
“Of course, some are afraid of dogs and in this case, we leave Joep at home or take him somewhere else, but other customers often give him a biscuit.” Last year, he even had gifts for Christmas! “It’s part of the business.”
Kisses says the same thing happened to Sammie.
“At Christmas, our contacts receive a Christmas card with Sammie on it, she represents us and she is our pet and she is always there, even on weekends.” Cleansers and a colleague from the neighborhood make sure that ‘he gets enough attention and get food.’
Kisses said she could not imagine a desk without Sammie. “I really do not want to think about what we would do if Sammie was gone,” she said. “We really love her, I think if she was not here we would have another cat.”