A dog at an office in San Francisco

Credit: Phil King

Sit! Stay! Work! How Dogs Are Taking Over The Office

June 27, 2017

As we enter the dog days of summer, some offices are trying new ways to motivate their employees: dogs in the office.

Harvard historian Nancy Koehn came by our studios at the Boston Public Library to talk about this trend, which is emerging at workplaces around the country.

“Somewhere between 7 and 8 percent of American companies of all shapes and sizes allow you to bring your dogs,” said Koehn.

She explained the many benefits that are motivating companies toward adopting animal-friendly policies, citing improved retention, greater employee loyalty, increased productivity, and improved morale.

“Some of it may be that people are more engaged if [dogs are] there,” she said.  “It may be that they’re getting up and walking around more; people are much more mobile in the office with dogs. That actually tends, in creative jobs, to correlate with different kinds of productivity.”

Koehn also explained how people tend to stay in the office longer when dogs are around.

“Partly, it’s because you don’t have to rush home to let the dog out or relieve the dog sitter,” she said.

Perhaps most importantly, she said, furry friends might translate to actual friends in the office, and therefore better collaboration. How?

“Because people come up and make conversation with you about your dog,” Koehn said.

Nancy Koehn holds the James E. Robison Chair of Business administration at the Harvard Business School. Her forthcoming book is Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times. To hear her interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.


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