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Reduce stress, improve mood: how to make your office dog-friendly

In ten years, the number of workplaces where employees can spend the day with their pets has increased almost tenfold, Gábor Korom, dog expert, told HR Portal. Research has shown that having four-legged friends in the workplace can have many benefits, but it's worth preparing carefully to make sure everyone feels comfortable.

Állatbarát iroda tanácsok-

Amazon has 7,000 dogs at its headquarters and an average of 800 dogs a day, but other multinationals also have a high rate of pets in the workplace - this was the information Gábor Korom used at a roundtable on creating dog-friendly workplaces to illustrate the fact that bringing pets into the workplace is becoming increasingly justified today. According to the dog expert, the example shows that it is healthy for employees to bring their dogs to work. Of course, only if the conditions are right. Moreover, he says, it is not necessarily necessary to do this every day, but if there are days when the employee goes to work with his dog, it is good for him and his pet. In Romania, 46% of the population keep a dog at home, which puts our neighbour at the top of the European Union, but Hungary is also at the top of the list with 33%," he said. As a result, there is a great demand for bringing dogs to work, which is also becoming more and more common in Romania. Gábor Korom said that the number of people bringing their dogs to work has increased tenfold in the last 10 years. In his experience, this mainly concerns office workplaces, but the presence of four-legged friends is also becoming more common in other types of work.

The number of people with four-legged friends has increased by 10 years in the last ten years.

Stress relievers and team builders

Not without reason, as dogs at work relieve tension, reduce stress and break monotony. As Gábor Korom put it, dogs are a social gateway to other people. "It melts the social space very easily and makes it easy to connect with the other person," he said.

In addition, the presence of four-legged friends brings the team together, has a good effect on employees, recharges them and increases their creativity. In addition, there are fewer phone calls during breaks," said Éva Knapek, clinical psychologist and health psychologist. It doesn't hurt to stand up and move around with dogs during breaks, which is good for the blood circulation. The increase in worker efficiency has also been shown in research: a Virginia Commonwealth University study found that the presence of pets is a significant stress reducer for their owners, and the researchers found that this benefit can extend to the workplace and the workers.

And the Human Animal Bond Research Institute examined the impact of the presence of dogs on group problem-solving and found that dogs improve group cohesion, increase trust and cooperation. They also found that employees feel more engaged in animal-friendly workplaces. Research also shows that the presence of dogs has a positive effect on productivity: it has been shown to increase it. In addition, workers recover faster between periods of focus when dogs help to refresh their attention. Accordingly, more people would like to work with their pets.

A recent survey by pet food giant Mars found that 71% of Generation Z respondents and 48% of Generation Y respondents have asked or plan to ask their employer to create pet-friendly offices.And 18% of respondents to a survey of around 2,000 UK workers this year said they would like their workplace to be pet-friendly.

Designing a pet-friendly office 2

Dog-friendly, but how?

The design of a dog-friendly workplace needs careful preparation. "The big question is what happens if not everyone is OK with it?" - says Éva Knapek, outlining the first steps. It is worth agreeing and developing a framework with those who work together. In doing so, everyone's views should be taken into account, so that it is a natural, comfortable situation for all colleagues. "Some people are afraid of animals, but this aversion can disappear after a gradual phase of getting to know them. But if someone has developed it because of trauma, help may be needed", adds Éva Knapek. However, the expert says that it is not worth pushing it, to make sure that no one feels uncomfortable at work because of dogs. If everyone agrees to the presence of four-legged friends, the rules should be laid down. Who can bring in the dog on which day? Where appropriate, pets may need to be settled in, which can almost always be done with time and patience. "Some companies have had to bring dozens of dogs together and this has always been very manageable," says the dog expert. It's also worth being open about the feeding, because some owners don't want their dogs to be overfed," adds Éva Knapek.

Pet-policy at Mars

On behalf of the roundtable hosts, Orsolya Czégény, Mars' corporate affairs manager for Central Europe, explained that they have an internal policy, a pet-policy, which everyone who is new to the company can read. They have involved as many people as possible in its development: lawyers, HR, but also employees, of course, to make the policy as realistic as possible. It is a basic principle that if something is not comfortable for someone, they discuss it. In their experience, colleagues can work well together to run a dog-friendly workplace, which has been in place at Mars' Budapest office for 10 years. "For them, it's an added bonus that everyone appreciates," adds Orsolya Czégény. There is one employee who is allergic to dog hair, but when she comes to work in the office, her workstation is in a place where she is not near a dog. A strict principle is that a thorough daily cleaning is done in the office so that the dog hair does not irritate the sensitive employee. It is also a basic principle that whoever brings in their dog is responsible for it. If an accident occurs, they should clean the floor carpet with non-hazardous cleaning products. (At Mars, there are many ways to help pets and employees bond: a volunteer programme allows colleagues to help a shelter during working hours for a certain amount of time, and an adoption programme gives a colleague who adopts a pet a year's supply of pet food as a gift from the company.)

At Mars, the company has a pet adoption programme, which is a voluntary scheme that allows colleagues to help a shelter during working hours for a certain amount of time.


There are aspects for the dog

Gábor Korom says that a dog feels comfortable when it can be with a human and its needs are met. These include nutrition and metabolism, followed by rest. The dog spends 80% of the day resting, of course not as deeply as a human. It is therefore also a basic need at work for the dog to be able to go to his place and rest. A good place for him is a box that separates the dog, a personal space where the dog is separated from his environment. This is necessary because, if the dog is "in action" all day, it is a stressful situation for him. Then comes the social needs. In the social space he needs to be able to move well. It also needs to follow rules: be disciplined, friendly with colleagues and of course housebroken. Conformation needs to be taken into account: for example, a large dog may have a tail wagging, which can be a problem in an office. Excessive drooling can also be a problem in larger dogs," she adds. "A dog walking to work should know not to pick up food that falls on the floor. It should be prevented from doing so," the dog expert added.

Before bringing your dog to the office:

- learn how to calm him down - he should be able to relax in the office,

- we can confidently discipline him so that his behaviour is compatible with office etiquette,

- how to teach him how to calm down and relax

- be fully housetrained - this is most important for puppies,

- make sure that he does not show aggression towards his fellow dogs or other people,

- accustom him to the stresses and strains of an urban environment.

Dog-friendly workplace in practice

In light of this, after the roundtable discussion, Mars staff gave journalists a tour of the office to demonstrate what a dog-friendly workplace looks like. "The floor is carpeted, it's easy to clean. Of course, if there is an accident, in addition to the initial cleaning, we also report it to the cleaners, who will start cleaning up the traces again in the evening," said Orsolya Czégény.

"The desks have metal legs to prevent puppies from chewing them, the rubbish is collected in a closed container to prevent it from being rummaged through, and special care is taken to ensure that sweets are stored high up and do not accidentally fall to the floor. There are dog beds next to the desks in case pets need to lie down, and in some places there are also drinking bowls" - says the Mars Corporate Affairs Manager for Central Europe. According to Gábor Korom, who has also advised a number of companies on how to create a dog-friendly workplace, it is not primarily a question of money (of course, it is good to buy a special cleaning machine), but rather a question of attitude, which, however, according to experience, quickly pays off.

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