On all fours, wagging her tail when visitors arrive, Daisy looks after the well-being of the Tungsten Collaborative team. The dog, like many other pets, has the right to go to the office with her owner, who worked from home during the pandemic.
The 12-year-old blonde Labrador sniffs the workspace for something to eat or play with.
Beside her, Delilah – a basset hound with long, floppy ears – approaches, looking like she, too, wants some attention.
At this Canadian design firm, which has a dozen employees in Ottawa, other dogs roam around, like 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 team members and is even entitled to a short biography.
“Many of Dave’s (McMullin, vice president of design, editor’s note) biggest innovations came from long walks alongside Daisy,” the company writes, adding that the dog has “nine years of experience to support the best designers.
“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 then all of a sudden you go back to work, and he has to be crated for the day or walk around the house alone,” laments the 47-year-old trainer, who feels that this “isn’t is fair” to 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 give the dogs water during the day. These sometimes sleep at the foot of chairs, chew toys or run towards a bouncing ball in the hallway.
Adding the Tungsten Collaborative to the Humane Society’s list of dog-accepting companies has boosted business activity and increased staff productivity, Dicke said.
According to a recent survey by Léger conducted for PetSafe, one in two Canadians (51%) supports the idea of bringing their dog to the office.
This proposal is particularly appreciated by younger people: 18% of workers aged between 18 and 24 say they would change companies if their employer refused them this option.
Faced with the roughly 200,000 Canadians who have adopted a cat or dog during the pandemic, bosses who demand the return of their employees in person may be forced to consider relaxations.
For some employees like Johan Van Hulle, 29, the new rule was “a key factor in (their) decision” to take a job at Tungsten last year.
“Allowing dogs is a good indicator” of a company’s culture, the Eevee owner, who was looking for a “not too corporate” environment, told AFP.
Still in Ottawa, this time within the Chandos Bird construction joint venture, the designers of a nuclear research lab are visibly moved by the presence of Samson, a 10-year-old blond Yorkshire terrier.
His master, Trevor Watt, didn’t want to leave him alone in his new home when he returned to the office in January.
Bringing him in should be a temporary solution. Not only did he adapt to office life, but he also won over his fellow masters, who now share tours with Samson.
“He loves coming to work,” says Trevor Watt, who appreciates “not having to worry about him.”
His boss, Byron Williams, says petting a dog is a great way to “relax after a big meeting.”
But the presence of man’s best friend at work can pose some challenges, for example, for employees who are allergic to animals or those who are afraid of them.
Samson stays on a leash when Trevor Watt’s co-star, terrified of dogs, is nearby.
Some employees of other companies, interviewed by AFP, were also able to complain about stains on the carpet, improvised barking and hair, found throughout.