Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day, and while despite my best efforts, there is no pitter-patter of little paws in the HMA office today. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate with a blog post!
If it were up to me, dogs would be allowed anywhere and everywhere. But, alas, dogs are not allowed anywhere and everywhere so I am forced to leave my Little Monster at home with a big comfy bed, box full of squeaky toys and swimming pool all at her disposal. What a tough life.
Not all dogs are stay-at-home pets though. Some companies not only allow, but encourage having dogs in the office. Such is the case for Buchanan PR, our PRGN affiliates out in Philadelphia. They believe “dogs improve office productivity and make employees collaborate more effectively.”
And they have the research to back it up.
Sure, I’ve seen dogs in consumer-facing businesses like retail stores and even salons, and they are commonly used as mascots or spokesanimals. But what does having a dog around do to a professional environment? Taking it a step further, how do dogs help public relations-based businesses? I asked Anne Buchanan, founder and president of Buchanan PR, and our PRGN partner on how her dogs help her company succeed.
HMA: When did you first allow employees to bring their dogs to work?
AB: Dogs have been a part of Buchanan PR for a long time. Buddy, my black lab, is a rescue dog and I believe he had been abused. He’s always been very timid and needy, preferring not be too far away. When I needed to expand my offices, I knew I wanted to find space that would accommodate Buddy as well.
And the rest is history, as they say. Buchanan currently employs two K-9s: Buddy, who is director of security, and Romeo, a miniature poodle, is the custodial supervisor whose duties include making sure all office trash cans are emptied in a timely and efficient manner. Buchanan claims that their salary of t-r-e-a-t-s is enough to rival that of a normal office supplies budget. But they are hard workers and earn their keep.
HMA: How can dogs play a role in public relations? Do you think they are better suited for PR than other trades?
AB: So much of public relations is about forging relationships with people, I believe they do play a valuable role. I think contact with animals humanizes people, and their presence puts people at ease. We are a fairly relaxed, fun-loving office, and the dogs help set the mood and convey our office personality. They also ensure there’s always something to talk about right off the bat.
HMA: Did employees’ demeanors change? Were you worried that your staff could become distracted?
AB: Because I’ve had Buddy since I started my business, my employees have always known what they were getting into. I can’t remember ever interviewing someone who wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of having the dogs around. I also can’t tell you how many people, upon hearing about our dog-friendly office, remark that they would love to go to work (with or without their dog in tow) in such an environment.
(As for being distracted), there is actually recent research that shows that having dogs in the office improves productivity. I can’t say that we haven’t had instances where a meeting has been interrupted by pawing at the door or barking at the mailman but, again, everyone tends to be good-natured about it.
HMA: How do your clients react when they learn you have non-human employees?
AB: For the most part, our clients love to come to our offices so they have a chance to visit with the dogs. We always alert visitors to the office that they will be greeted by a furry friend and some barking, and offer to keep the dogs contained if they are not dog fans. I can’t recall one instance where someone has taken us up on that. We find introductions are frequently followed by stories of their dogs at home – a terrific way to break the ice.
HMA: When has a dog helped your company?
AB: I have actually found that I have some of my best ideas when I am out taking the dog on a short walk to take care of business. Just getting away from my desk and clearing my head for those few moments seems to make way for the creative juices.
Recently, I was walking Buddy and came upon a stray dog nearby. We brought him back to our offices, and made signs to post around the neighborhood. Because it was a Friday and we knew our phone would not be answered over the weekend, we urged people to visit our Facebook page and leave messages there. In the space of several days, we (had) more than 1,500 visitors to our Facebook page! Many visitors went on to comment about our dog-friendly policy, and we gained a number of new ‘fans.’
So for everyone who toted their best friend to work with them today, don’t be surprised if your productivity increases and your mood brightens. Just be sure to reward any work your dog does with an appropriate stipend of Snausages and belly rubs.
Oh course, we couldn’t post this without a shout out to Miss Viva Dog, Cinder and Fenway.