We have recently welcomed a pretty blonde to the office who has a penchant for long walks, cheese and ping-pong balls.

No, it’s not the new intern. We now have an office dog. And she’s mine. Well, fast becoming “ours” …

Nell is a two and half year old cavapoo who lives with me and my family. And I am 100% one of ‘those’ people – she’s the screen saver on my laptop, I celebrate her birthday and take selfies with her. Sorry not sorry. So, when my colleagues suggested I bring her in to work, I unashamedly pushed the issue.

As always at Zest Towers bringing her in was a group decision that everyone needed to feel comfortable with. Luckily, everyone jumped onboard.

Part of the team

So why do the Directors let me to bring her in the office? Are we falling into that creative agency stereotype? Maybe. Does she aid productivity? Highly unlikely. Does the team enjoy her visits? Undoubtedly.

The fact that she is a chilled and friendly pup certainly goes a long way to confirming their decision was the right one…so far. If she was howling at the moon and attacking the IT guy it might be have been a different story.

However, the benefits of animals on mental health are well documented. Pets, especially dogs, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, and encourage exercise. A 2019 study by the University of Lincoln reported that employees who often bring their dogs to work report 22% higher satisfaction with their working conditions. Animals in the workplace encourage more social connections between employees and can contribute to a more enjoyable and relaxed working environment.

Which begs the question, with such obvious benefits, why aren’t all bosses looking to recruit employees of the four-legged kind? It could be that the same benefits can be achieved in a variety of ways. Wellness apps, flexible working, access to professional support, social events – a well-thought out benefits and rewards structure supports health and happiness when aligned to what employees feel they need.

So, what are the benefits?

The benefits are irrelevant actually. The point is that my employers recognise what is important to me and are supportive and inclusive. An office dog doesn’t define who we are at Zest. Our culture is defined by making an effort to understand what makes each other tick and learning about each other as individuals.

I have the freedom to be the same at home and at work, and I bring a tiny, fur-covered part of my home-life with me. This isn’t a novelty. We are all human. Why should we pretend that we drop our life at the door before we walk into work? It’s not realistic and it cultivates a pressure to keep a ‘work façade’ in place when life is tough.

That’s not how we work at Zest. Our home life is always a priority and the Directors work hard to create a culture that supports both personal priorities and excellent service for clients in a way that works for all.

And that effort always boosts morale far more than Nell can. As cute as she is.

David might even acknowledge her one day…