Standing on all fours, her tail wagging as visitors arrive, Daisy looks after the well-being of the team at Tungsten Collaborative in Ottawa. The dog, like many other pets, has the right to come to the office with her master, who worked from home during the pandemic.
The 12-year-old blonde-haired Labrador sniffs the workspace for something to eat or play with. At his side, Delilah – a basset hound with long hanging ears – approaches, looking like he too wants a little attention.
In this Canadian design company, which has a dozen employees in Ottawa, other dogs roam, such as Eevee the English greyhound and Hudson, a German shepherd puppy, who barks to be noticed.
Daisy is an “integral part” of the business. On the company’s website, she poses among the members of the team and even has the right to a short biography.
“Many of Dave’s (McMullin, vice president of design, editor’s note) greatest innovations have arisen on long walks alongside Daisy,” the company writes, adding that the dog has “nine years of experience to support the best designers.
Return of activity
“We encourage people who have pets to bring them” to the office, Tungsten Collaborative president Bill Dicke told AFP.
“You develop this relationship with your pet at home and all of a sudden you go back to work, and they have to be crated for the day or wander around the house alone,” laments the 47-year-old handler, who feels that this “ is not fair” for the animal. According to him, the pandemic has made companies more tolerant of the presence of pets at work.
In the office kitchen, bowls arranged in a row on the floor are used to water the dogs during the day. The latter sometimes sleep at the foot of chairs, chew on toys or run towards a bouncing ball in the hallway.
Adding Tungsten Collaborative to the Humane Society’s list of dog-friendly businesses has boosted business activity and increased staff productivity, Dicke said.
According to a recent Léger poll conducted for PetSafe, one in two Canadians (51%) supports the idea of bringing their dog to the office. This proposal is particularly appreciated by the youngest: 18% of employees aged 18 to 24 say that they would change company if their employer refused them this option.
Faced with the approximately 200,000 Canadians who have adopted a cat or a dog during the pandemic, bosses who demand the return in person of their employees could be forced to consider relaxations.
For some employees like Johan Van Hulle, 29, the new rule was “a key factor in (his) decision” to accept a job at Tungsten last year. “Allowing dogs is a good indicator” of a company’s culture, told AFP the owner of Eevee, who was looking for an environment that was “not too corporate”.
Also in Ottawa, this time within the construction joint venture Chandos Bird, the designers of a nuclear research laboratory are visibly thrilled by the presence of Samson, a 10-year-old blond Yorkshire terrier.
His master, Trevor Watt, did not want to leave him alone in his new home as he returned to the office in January. Bringing him in was supposed to be a temporary solution. Not only did he adapt to office life, but he also won over his master’s colleagues, who now share walks with Samson. “He loves coming to work,” says Trevor Watt, who appreciates “not having to worry about him.”
Her boss, Byron Williams, says petting a dog is a great way to “chill out after a big meeting.”
But the presence of man’s best friend at work can pose certain challenges, for example for employees allergic to animals or those who are afraid of them.
Samson stays on a leash when Trevor Watt’s colleague, terrified of dogs, is around. Some employees of other companies, interviewed by AFP, were also able to complain of stains on the carpet, impromptu barking and hairs, found everywhere.