Pip Dale, Deputy Creative Director at Brandhouse

In a world of decreasingly real human interaction, where people on their commutes rarely glance up from their phones, and our jobs pin us to our seats while we peer into our screens for hours on end, Bea, our young golden cocker spaniel puppy, is reminding us to reconnect and interact. The bus is no longer silent and grey. A smile, a chat; people always have something to say as she boldly sniffs her company and scours the floor for crisps.

A distracting rummage around your bin, a soft brush against your legs – Bea will routinely do the rounds each morning to check how things are. Around the office she goes, seeking out the places where she is most appreciated for tummy rubs and cuddles, and the toast sharers or messy eaters with well stocked post breakfast bins.

Colleagues around the kettle will share stories about their own dogs, reveal snippets of their lives while trying not to have to share their breakfast as Bea watches on expectantly.

Tense conference calls are softened by the sound of loud chewing or the occasional woof as she spots her own reflection in a door. A break, a distraction, a laugh – all offices should try it.

Shoreditch, in particular, seems rich with office dogs . Our building alone hosts four, and the numbers appear to be rising. At lunchtimes they emerge, and the local green spaces are filled with walkers reminded to stretch their legs, see the sky and breathe fresh air regardless of the weather. They get to catch a break from a frantic day, a niggling problem or a tricky brief, and go back to their desks with renewed positivity and enthusiasm. Or in Bea’s case, for a well-deserved nap!

More and more businesses are encouraging dogs in the workplace. Traditionally an office-based concept, but increasingly now found in shops or even dentists, research has found that the presence of a dog causes our brains to release endorphins in stressful situations. It can reduce nerves, indigestion, headaches, coughs and tiredness. Simply stroking a dog can lower heart rates, a phenomenon believed to be related to our ancient and innate desire to groom. It’s been proven that people are perceived as more friendly and approachable when a dog is in the office, and that their presence increases cooperation and positive behaviours amongst teams.

Currently, only around 8% of UK employers allow dogs at work. But Purina Human Resources Director, Paul Steadman, says “From our own experience, we know that pet-friendly workplaces lead to a whole range of positive benefits such as higher employee engagement, talent retention, greater wellbeing, higher performance and productivity, increased inspiration and decreased stress.”

A 2016 survey by Banfield pet hospital found that 82% of employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to pet-friendly companies, 88% think pets at work improve morale and 86% say they reduce stress.

Many of my colleagues, who for various reasons such as tenancy restrictions or lack of space find owning a dog impossible, have told me that having Bea at work helps fill that gap.

In their words:

“It’s great just to take 10 minutes out of your day and walk Bea. It gets me away from the stress of office life”

“She really helps de-stress the studio, you get unlimited cuddles and she makes everyone smile and laugh”

“The best days are when Bea is in the office. She’s such a lovely, happy pup whose enthusiasm for everything is infectious. She also gives the best cuddles and it’s lovely to take her for a walk at lunchtime” 

“Sometimes, if I was having a really stressful day, I would just go chill with a Bea and after 10 minutes feel so much better!”

And her constantly growing number of Instagram followers seems to reflect this too! (@golden.bea)

In these days of increasing time pressures, high stress and screen staring, Bea reminds us all to stop, interact, to chat and to laugh, and that simple happiness is the most essential emotion for anyone. And the occasional chewed shoe can be always replaced!

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