There's been a rise in pet-friendly workplaces in recent years, with more and more employers realising that opening up the office to our four-legged friends can have benefits not only for the pets' owners, but for employers and productivity and creativity as well.

Pets - particularly dogs - in the workplace are more than just a trend. They're here to stay. Here's why:

Stress reduction
It's well known pets can reduce stress: even just petting a dog can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. Transfer that goodness to the workplace and you could see the positive effects quickly rub off on employees or colleagues.

Improves work relationships
Animals can be great icebreakers, encouraging even the most introverted of humans to break out of their shells from time to time. In an office setting, that's a valuable trait. If pets in the workplace encourage conversation between colleagues, it could result in better trust between co-workers and a natural increase in collaboration.

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Encourages activity
Most dogs need plenty of exercise, so a dog in the workplace can be a great way to promote physical activity and a generally healthy lifestyle among employees. Not only that - it can be a good excuse for dog owners (and benevolent co-workers) to take adequate breaks; several studies have shown that short breaks throughout the day can help to increase productivity.

Saves money
Pet-friendly workplaces can be great news for owners who would otherwise require regular care (such as dog-walkers and dog-sitters) which costs money.

Pets can boost creativity
Some studies have shown dogs can help increase creativity at home and in a work setting (thanks in no small part to the connections between dog ownership and walking, which can also have positive effects on creativity). Having an unpredictable four-legged buddy around is a good way to keep we humans on our toes - it's not surprising this trait translates to the work environment as well.