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Dogs at the Workplace: A Multiple Case Study

Nova School of Business and Economics, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1099-085 Lisboa, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(1), 89;
Received: 1 November 2020 / Revised: 16 November 2020 / Accepted: 29 December 2020 / Published: 5 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Pet-friendly policies are becoming more common in the workplace, but little is known about how the presence of dogs influences the work environment. For this reason, the paper includes a study on how dogs influence the work environment and under which circumstances companies can benefit from a pet-friendly policy. An inductive research approach was used for this study. Qualitative data were conducted by interviewing dog-owners who routinely bring their dogs to the office and persons in management positions in the same companies. Finally, the results of the evolving data analysis through successive iterations was formed into a grounded theory. The results of the study generally support the belief that dogs at the workplace can have a positive influence on individual and collective well-being of organizational members in an office environment. However, the study shows that these positive effects of dogs are linked to certain prerequisites that need to be fulfilled in the company. These include flexible hours, autonomy, and open communication. While those requisites are not necessary in order to be able to implement pet-friendly policies, they are highly relevant when companies seek to decrease stress for employees and improve the work atmosphere and social capital.
As the work environment is increasing in competitiveness and stressfulness, more and more companies try to increase employee well-being. One option is allowing employees to bring their dogs to work, building on the considerable evidence that dogs have a positive influence on people’s well-being. However, little is known about how a dog’s presence influences the employees and the companies in offices. Therefore, we empirically scrutinize the presence of dogs in organizations and the impact of pet-friendly organizational policies, with multiple case studies with semi-structured interviews as their foundation. Based on an inductive approach for the data analysis, we found that organizational members consider that dogs can lower their stress, improve communication, and foster social cohesion when a flexible organizational culture is in place. This includes the following: Problems in the company are openly addressed; employees have job autonomy, with flexibility to take breaks; and mistakes and errors are allowed to be made by employees and their companions alike, and room to find solutions is given. The inflexible permission of pets at work can, on the contrary, create pressure and stress in employees. For the business world, this implicates that this kind of incentive only leads to success if the right framework and culture is in place, and it cannot only be seen as an instrument to increase employee well-being. View Full-Text
Keywords: human–dog relationship; dogs in organizations; pet-friendly policies human–dog relationship; dogs in organizations; pet-friendly policies
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wagner, E.; Pina e Cunha, M. Dogs at the Workplace: A Multiple Case Study. Animals 2021, 11, 89.

AMA Style

Wagner E, Pina e Cunha M. Dogs at the Workplace: A Multiple Case Study. Animals. 2021; 11(1):89.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wagner, Elisa, and Miguel Pina e Cunha. 2021. "Dogs at the Workplace: A Multiple Case Study" Animals 11, no. 1: 89.

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