09 October 2018

How dog-friendly offices can make for happier more collaborative lawyers

Published on 09 October 2018

It’s a doggy dog world

Much has been made of the sad state of lawyers in recent years. Long hours, the combative culture common to adversarial law, and recording the dreaded billable unit combine for work life that can, at times, be challenging. Rather than focus on the gloomier aspects of law, Insights has explored the benefits of dog therapy to help lawyers de-stress, decompress and recharge.

 

Increased collaboration among colleagues

Dogs know no human social hierarchies, and a well-trained dog can be friend to all, from the receptionist to the managing partner. An unlikely benefit to a dog wandering the office can be the conversations struck up by colleagues that might otherwise not work closely or even know each other well.

“You discover, when walking across the office to pet a cute dog, cross-pollination between your work,” she Jennifer Fearing, co-author of “Dogs at Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces”, in an interview with Time. “You really wouldn’t have had the idea to work together, but because you struck up a conversation about the dog, you discover an opportunity that produces some synergy that wouldn’t have otherwise existed.”

 

Improved social support and sense of wellbeing

In a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, it was reported that the presence of dogs in the workplace played a major role in compelling people with serious mental illness to come back to work or remain employed. According to the study, this derives from the increased sense of ‘social support’ and wellbeing that dogs in the office provide. Given the statistical over-representation of lawyers suffering anxiety, depression or related mental health issues, encouraging a dog-friendly law firm seems like an attractive and simple solution – and far better than sick days or delays caused by unhappy lawyers in unproductive work environments.

 

Employers can attract top talent via canine company

Legal Vision is one of a few firms famous for their dog-friendly workplace policies. Indeed, as attracting millennial talent to replace retiring baby boomers becomes a priority, perks like an office pooch can go a long way.  Dog-friendly workplaces have long been a mainstay of startups and tech companies – Amazon boasts 1,000 dogs in its Seattle offices alone. Many NewLaw firms are now following suit, offering dog-friendly policies alongside other lifestyle perks, like doing away with formal office wear and work-from-home arrangements.   

 

Dogs aren’t left home and lonely

Humans are not the only ones who benefit from more canine time. Dogs, being innately social creatures, don’t thrive from being left home alone when their owners are at work, and can often become anxious or lonely. Indeed, research by animal welfare expert Charlotte Burns suggests that dogs left lonely can experience ‘shrinking brains’ due to ‘bestial boredom.’

So, the research is in: dog-friendly office policies promote happier, more collaborative workplaces, which can in turn attract talent.  It’s paw-sitive news for law firms looking to create a better working experience for their lawyers.

 

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