October is the American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month. Now, you might be wondering what that has to do with small businesses. Well, what if I told you that bringing your dog to work could increase your bottom line? Are you interested now?
Here’s the scoop: Experts agree that having a dog with you at work is an inexpensive way to increase productivity and reduce stress. Additionally, studies have shown that dogs also enhance collaboration at work. My dog Maxwell, a three-year-old Shih-Tzu, is the chairman of the bone at my company. He enjoys “chairing” an occasional staff meeting and playing ball with his “co-workers” — creating a fun work environment.
So why not adopt a dog for your business? Small businesses often find allowing their employees to bring their furry four-legged friends to work is a unique and valuable employee benefit — something a large company can't offer.
If you’d like to create a small business that is friendly to dogs or other pets, here are a few guidelines to consider:
1. Types. You need to decide what types of pets will be allowed in the office. Not every pet is office appropriate.
2. Parameters. Determine in what parts of the office the animals will be allowed. There may need to be pet-free zones. Even though Maxwell joins us for staff meetings, you may find that having a dog in meetings doesn’t work for your business. After all, taking dogs to meetings can be distracting.
3. Limits. Establish criteria that forbid sick or dirty animals. Also, require proof the animal is current on its vaccinations and licenses.
4. Get buy-in. Make sure your entire team is on-board. You may have employees who are afraid of dogs or other animals, or who may suffer from allergies.
5. Clean-up. Require employees to clean up after their dogs if there is an accident. Some businesses have a three-strike rule; after three messes, the pet can't return to the office.
6. Noise. Establish guidelines for noise levels, particularly in an area where there is a considerable amount of customer interaction. An incessantly barking dog is bad for business. Fortunately, Maxwell rarely barks, so he’s an ideal office dog.
You can find more information about how to make your office a dog- or pet-friendly environment at www.dogfriendly.com. And if you don’t already have a dog, consider adopting one from a shelter this month. It could be the best thing you do for your small business.