In 2017, The New York Times reported that, “…43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely….That represents a four percentage point increase since 2012, a shift that meets the demands of many job seekers.”
If you are part of the growing wave of people working from home, or envision yourself doing so in the not-so-distant future, might I suggest you hire a dog as a coworker?
(My dog, Magnus, is the fluffy guy pictured at the top of this post.)
It’s true; dogs do bark during an occasional conference call or demand you feed them while you are in the middle of an important task, but these four arguments make the decision a no-brainer.
1: Dogs Contribute to a Culture of Trust
The importance of trust in the workplace is well documented. Here are two quick examples:
- A 2002 study by Watson Wyatt showed that total return to shareholders in high-trust organizations is almost three times higher than the return in low-trust organizations.
- The 2013 Human Capital Institute’s Building Trust Survey indicates that higher trust aligns with increased levels of productivity, involvement, and employee satisfaction.
Unfortunately, in far too many organizations, trust is too low. A 2018 EY Global Trust Study indicates that, “Less than half of global respondents have a “great deal of trust” in their current employers (46%), boss or team/colleagues (both 49%).”
You may not always know where you stand with your human boss or co-worker, but last week’s edition Science contends that you can determine if your dog trusts you:
The work shows that when dogs and their people gaze into each other’s eyes, all get a boost in their circulating levels of oxytocin — a hormone thought to play a role in trust and emotional bonding.
2. Dogs are Willing to Forgive & Forget
Let’s face it; we all mess-up. You may have had the best of intentions, but still find yourself in one of these situations:
- You invest hours preparing for a presentation, but fail to deliver a clear message. Your boss is disappointed and perhaps the episode shows up on your next performance report.
- You offer to help a colleague with a task, but then you are pulled by another requirement and can’t follow through as you had initial planned. The colleague understands; however, she is still disappointed. Maybe she tells others not to ask you for help.
Mess up something with your canine co-worker and I promise the entire issue will be forgotten in a matter of moments.
3. Dogs are Great Cheerleaders
Over the years, I’ve had some co-workers who celebrate my achievements. They are genuinely happy for me. I’ve also had others who appeared to be less than pleased when I did something well.
Your dog is all in for you! Hang up the phone after a great call and you are guaranteed a kiss on the lips.
4. Dogs Will Keep You Active
In recent years, I’ve heard people say that, “sitting is the new smoking.” They argue that we need to move throughout the day. With no parking lot to walk across, no conference room to journey to, and no bathroom on the other side of the building, it is easy for a teleworker to sit idle for hours.
As content as a dog might be to lay around, most are willing to get up and move at a moment’s notice. When I’m working from home, I just ask, “Magnus, do you want to go for a walk?” and he is halfway out the door.
If You Don’t Work From Home…
If you don’t work from home, you might consider bringing a pet to the office. A 2012 Frontiers of Psychology article, analyzed human-animal interaction (HAI) studies conducted over the previous decade. The analysis points to HAI benefits including reductions in aggressive behaviors, increased empathy, reduced depression, and improved social interaction. Pet allergies aside, most work environments would benefit from these outcomes.
If you work from home and have a dog by your side, please leave a comment and let everyone know why your dog is an excellent co-worker. If you have a cat or some other colleague, let us know about that pet too.
You can download an attractive pdf graphic to help you remember these four items. Just click here for the free file.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.