Dear Corporate Governess
My office went through a rough few weeks, and a colleague brought in her dog to help with stress. It was great for a day, but then suddenly dogs started popping up everywhere. I'm not anti-dog, but I don't want them here. What do I do?
—Grace M., Toronto
Make the case to your boss for having a dog-free office, but don't expect all of your colleagues to agree. Dog owners love to bring their pets to work and will cite stress reduction and improved performance as just a few of the benefits. Companies such as Google officially declare their affection for dogs as integral to their corporate culture.
While many health professionals say dogs give comfort and help people deal with anxiety, not everyone concurs. And the trend can get silly—I give you Dexter, the emotional support peacock, who was recently denied his booked seat on a United Airlines flight.
One compromise you could suggest is having dog-friendly Mondays. If that still makes you uncomfortable, here's some more ammo. Beyond unwelcome barking, shedding and slobbering, there's the potential for serious allergic reactions from visitors who didn't expect Buster at the door. Then there are the liability issues. If an office allows for dogs, the company will need insurance to cover damages. Plus, with an estimated 500,000 dog bites occurring each year in Canada, there's always the possibility of a chomp. My bichon frise loves (nearly) everybody but given the chance, would happily tear into the FedEx guy's leg.
Dear Corporate Governess
My company talks about developing an innovative culture, but I find the daily grind gets in the way. What's a quick fix to urge my team to think outside their comfort zone?
—Dylan M., Ottawa
Make a dedicated time, even if it's only one hour a week, when everyone must contribute an idea. It could be focused on a problem or open-ended, but Wharton researchers found you get better quality when people are given the chance to ponder before sharing. If office politics or hierarchy are an issue, Rebecca Reuber, a professor at Rotman School of Management, suggests sending all ideas to a neutral third party. That way, "everybody has equal status, and you can build on the ideas," she says. I also like getting people out of their work environment. That's why some of the biggest names in innovation—Apple, DreamWorks and Google—have created spaces where people can relax and collaborate. No moolah for a reno? Head to a local coffee or lunch spot for a couple of hours to just chat.