When I agreed to let a team member bring a dog into the office, I underestimated how much everyone in the office would enjoy the experience.
A few months ago, my company hired an office administrator (by the way, welcome to the team, Gretchen!). “Office Administrator” doesn’t begin do describe everything she does, but the title “Personnel Director / Internship Coordinator / Bookkeeper / Chief Culture Officer” didn’t fit on the business cards.
In her first week, she asked if I had a problem with her bringing in her dog – a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix named Kona. No one in the office confessed to a dog allergy, so I didn’t see an issue. I also knew that no one in the office would object to having a dog around. Some had even requested we find an “office dog,” which is an idea I still like, except that I foresee arguments about who gets to – or, who has to – take care of the dog during non-business hours.
Kona started coming to work a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t be happier with her performance. Every few hours, she makes a circle around our office, visiting each workstation, soliciting affection – and treats. Everyone stops to pet her, no matter what they’re doing. We spoil Kona, and in return she provides a welcome and blessed distraction from the rhythm of work.
I love it when she comes into my office, sticks her nose in my lap, then lies down on the rug in front of my couch – but never on the couch. That’s a barrier she hasn’t crossed yet.
I don’t know whether having a dog in the office actually improves productivity, or encourages my team to work harder, or makes my agency appear more open and creative to potential clients (though science says it’s a pretty good thing for everyone involved.) I don’t even know if seeing a dog at work every day quantitatively reduces stress or improves morale. But I do know this: Kona makes people happy. With just a wag of the tail and the puppy-dog look in her eye, she gives people pleasure and connects with them in a way that no one else in the office can.
Part of Kona’s appeal may be that she has absolutely nothing to do with our work. She doesn’t directly help my team create media lists, build better websites, shoot more compelling video, or write better communications strategies. Kona has never heard of, and has never had to explain the term “thought leadership,” and she has no idea what strategies we need to succeed in Public Relations, but she does a great job providing the mental break everyone needs to stay focused.
On the other hand, we may love Kona simply because she’s a sweet, well-mannered and affectionate dog who loves cheese and pats on the head. Yes, this dog loves cheese. Either way, I want Kona in the office every day and I’m glad she’s become an integral member of our team.
Christian Pinkston is the founder and president of the Pinkston Group, Inc.