It’s been almost three months since AFB’s global headquarters instituted a dog-friendly workplace, and the benefits have far exceeded our expectations!
The biggest changes we have noticed around the office are:
- Having dogs here makes us move! Now we have a reason to get up and take a walk outside for some fresh air. It’s amazing how we don’t do this when we are alone but leave it to Fido to make us get up and get in a little exercise.
“Having dogs at work forces us to get away from our desks and walk a little, which is healthier.” – Debbie Francis, AFB Finance
- Having dogs here makes us talk! Who needs an icebreaker when you see fellow colleagues walking their beloved pooch? How can you walk by a wagging tail? The dogs make you stop and say hi. Many relationships have been strengthened by having dogs at work.
- Having dogs here makes us happy! In a fast-paced workplace, it’s easy to get lost in the daily grind. It’s amazing how many colleagues swing by the office of someone with a pet just to get some fur therapy. They put a smile on your face and remind you to not sweat the small stuff.
“Oshie did awesome on his first day with me at the office, and I loved having him here!” – Nicole Cody, AFB Human Resources
So we all agree that having dogs at work is absolutely amazing! But before you start bringing your four-legged friend to work, it’s important to have a plan when rolling out the Dogs at Work Program.
CREATE A POLICY AND COMMITTEE
There are multiple resources that describe different programs; find one that fits your workplace. It’s easiest to modify an existing program rather than create a new one. At the beginning, safety was our focus for both associates and pets.
A “dogs at work committee” was formed and led by associates. The committee met several times prior to kickoff week to make plans and preparations for a smooth transition and, most importantly, to make it SAFE and FUN! It is important to provide a transition plan companywide so everyone is aware of the changes that will take place and what to expect.
PREPARING FOR THE TRANSITION
During the preparation of this program, we learned that many associates were worried about how their pets would act in the workplace. It’s important to give dogs (and employees) a chance to acclimate; patience is a must when you are getting started. AFB chose to work with a behaviorist during kickoff week to assess dogs and the workspaces. This helped everyone with acclimation plans for their pets, and it was helpful to have an expert on-site and available to answer any questions. Dr. Crista Coppola, PhD, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), assisted dog parents and non-dog parents to ensure all interactions between our employees and dogs were positive. Small training sessions took place to assist in continued interactions and Dr. Coppola continues to be a resource for any questions that arise.
“Bullet did great his first day! We had about 20 dogs in the office and it went well…some anxiety and stress, but we had an animal behaviorist on-site doing assessments and helping everyone acclimate, including non-pet owners, pets and pet parents.” – Debra Williams, AFB Marketing
Inviting our employees to bring their fur children to the workplace has proved to be a wonderful decision. We are so excited to continue this program. Dogs in the office create a happy workplace!