By Bryony Dent, Volunteer Storyteller
Britain is a nation of animal lovers, but many of us leave our beloved pets at home when we go to work. Things are a bit different in our Cardiff office. We spoke to Russ Kennedy, Director of Dimensions Cymru, to learn more…
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve been at Dimensions for about 7 months now and am responsible for leading Dimensions in Cymru.
I must say, it’s been a real honour to join such a talented and dedicated team and an absolute pleasure meeting and working with the people we support in Wales.
Where did the idea for a “Wellbeing Ambassadog” dog come from?
It started with looking for ways to improve our working environment and the team’s wellbeing without additional funding.
We did the small things like changing the ways we run meetings and getting a few office plants, but as a dog lover I wanted to try something a bit different.
I know that dogs make my family happy and I wasn’t surprised to find loads of evidence of their positive effect at work too.
The evidence shows that dogs at work increase cooperation, happiness and creativity, so I thought; why not bring some dogs into the office!
How did you get started?
We began a pilot scheme with two dogs – Erin, a red Setter, and Wisgi, a black Labrador.
I would describe the dogs as friendly, playful, affectionate but also good listeners.
It was important to make sure we had the right dogs in terms of manners and temperament, but the pilot was so successful that soon Wisgi and Erin became regular faces in the office.
We even took Erin out to visit some of the people we support. That was a wonderful day when you get to see how much they loved interacting with animals.
What were the benefits?
The team completed a wellbeing survey on weeks when the dogs were in the office and weeks when they weren’t.
Over a four-week period we saw a consistent increase in wellbeing measured by the Warwick and Edinburgh Wellbeing Scale.
Plus, the team told us that people are more cheerful, less stressed and that the office environment feels more relaxed and productive.
Some of the people we support made special trips to the office to meet our four-legged friend and others requested home visits. Overall, the feedback has been very positive.
Very impressive! So, is the scheme still running?
I’m pleased to say that yes, indeed it is! My dog Roland the springerdoodle, is our current Wellbeing Ambassadog that you will find around the office spreading some happiness.