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Pets and Productivity: Does Having an Animal in the Office Make You a Better Worker?

Pets and Productivity: Does Having an Animal in the Office Make You a Better Worker?

    Hanging out with man’s best friend is a huge part of our daily routine, and for many families a dog or cat is like another child. But as much as we pamper our furry friends, we can’t take them everywhere with us. And when it comes to those 8 hours (or more) we spend on the clock, it seems like our family pets are just never welcome to spend time with us while we are at work.

    But not all professions believe in working without their trusted animal friends. For centuries, cats have been prowling breweries and farms to kill rats and mice. K9 units couldn’t function without their canines, of course, and many hospitals and nursing homes have on-staff dogs or cats to comfort patients. Even some bookstores have cats prowling the stacks.

    And increasingly, “regular” offices are encouraging pets to become a part of the work day. But are animals in the office a source of distraction, or a legitimate tool for increasing productivity?

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    The Drawbacks

    If anyone in your office suffers from allergies, bringing a pet to the office would be inconsiderate, even if you are at the top of the food chain. But respiratory conditions aside, there are plenty of other problems with having an animal in the workplace that could severely impact your productivity.

    For one thing, an ill-behaved pet can cause havoc in all kinds of ways, from “accidents” to jumping up on your desk and knocking over your computer or stacks of papers. An animal that is too energetic should not be constrained to an office environment, for the sanity of you, your co-workers, and the pet itself.

    Sick pets should stay at home; no one wants to walk into your cube and see a pet dragging its back end across the floor. And it should be obvious that animals with aggression problems should not be in an office….unless you want to get sued.

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    Therapy animals or service animals, on the other hand, should always be welcome in an office setting.

    By the Numbers

    According to one study conducted by Christopher Honts and his colleagues at Central Michigan University, dogs in the office can help to boost productivity.

    And according to a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers, 17 percent of Americans work at pet-friendly companies and 23 percent believe pets should be allowed in the workplace.  The survey also found that 70 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace reduces stress, and 46 million believe having pets in the workplace creates a more productive work environment.

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    Since 1996, people have been celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day every June, with over 10,000 companies participating in the United States. The next Take Your Dog to Work Day is June 24th, so start buttering up your boss now to get them to take part.
 

    Success Stories

    In Portland, Oregon, the local opera company has a resident cat named Nerissa. The Opera’s general director Christopher Mattaliano also allows dogs at work.

    “I feel a happy staff is a productive staff,” says Mattaliano.

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    “During stressful times here, I get people coming in from a different floor just to connect with [my pet]” adds Noelle Guest, the director’s executive assistant.

    Elsewhere in the country, Linda Goldstein Dunay, president of a marketing and public relations firm, is also a fan of pets in the workplace.

    “From the beginning, I wanted my company to feel like a community,” she says. “I find that having dogs around, and allowing people to have their pets with them, is a big morale-booster.”

    Murray Low, director of The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School, adds that allowing employees to bring pets to work can be an inexpensive way to bolster productivity and reduce stress. “If the pet’s at work, it’s not as difficult for the employee to stay till 10 at night.”

    Would you ever bring a pet to work? Have you ever worked in a pet-friendly office? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Last Updated on August 21, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. Hello promotion, here I come!
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. No, thanks Alzheimer’s; you and I are just not a good fit.

    So how to train your brain to learn faster and remember more?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new.

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.” Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

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    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

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    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

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    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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