The savviest companies on the planet all have Chief Executive Canines!
By Si Si Penaloza
For a majority of pet parents, Take Your Dog to Work Day comes along but once a year, bringing out millions of pets to enjoy deskside rubdowns at workplaces around the United States. But at some of the top high-tech firms in Silicon Valley, every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day.
From Zynga’s “barking lot” adjacent to their main lobby, to the free-roaming Fidos at Google HQ, dozens of companies in the Bay Area offer perks for employee pets. After all, the future of the New World Order started in San Francisco and the sociological trickle-down effect of the greatest “gold rush” of the digital age is expressed poignantly in the pet policies of these tech titans. Let’s face it, many Silicon Valley dogs have a higher standard of living than most humans in the developing world.
Palo Alto is a kind of “Disneyland for Creative Adults.” Yahoo treats staffers to Coachella-style concerts, free craft beer and group trips to the South Pole. As recruiters often pluck top hires straight out of top colleges, the dominant corporate culture in the Valley replicates campus life. Google’s headline-making nap pods and concierge service is only outdone by its’ whimsical steel slide that gets you down to the free food truck that much quicker.
To keep up with competitors’ perks, many tech companies welcome their employees’ pets with open arms. Studies show that the benefits of a dog-friendly workplace range from decreased stress levels to increased productivity to improved employee relationships.
In no particular order, here are the pet-positive workplaces in the Bay Area that impressed us; if you feel like we missed your office in our round up, drop us a line!
With an enviably cool work culture, Google included dogs in their official Code of Conduct: “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.” Dogs embody the tenacity, loyalty and all-around playfulness of the Google ethos.
Google’s first dog was Yoshka, a Leonburger owned by Urs Hölzle, employee #8 and the company’s first SVP of Technical Infrastructure. The company named Yoshka their “top dog” in 2004. Dog-lovers at Google find plenty of social synergy: there’s a dog themed cafe inspired by Yoshka, and a group of dog-loving Googlers who call themselves “Dooglers.”
Zynga was named after CEO Mark Pincus’ beloved American Bulldog; the now iconic bully’s staunch stance lives on in the corporate logo. The company’s WiFi network is called “puppynet” in yet another tribute. Canines have always been a part of the Zynga culture; their policy requires on-site animals to be registered, housebroken and on their best behaviour. Play-fighting too rough is frowned upon. In an attempt to be non-discriminatory, Zynga goes the extra mile in their pet-friendly policies – felines are welcome, as are lizards, ferrets and rabbits. Talk about a Silicon Menagerie!
We all know Boo, the famously cute Pomeranian with his own Facebook page that has over 18 million likes. It’s no wonder that this famous dog belongs to Facebook employee, Irene Ahn, in the finance department. Think Facebook coders are all Vitamin D-starved Peter Pans? Think again. The company encourages fresh air, wellness and doggie downtime. As employees are often required to stay late, having pets close by gives employees much needed mental breaks when taking Boo or Buster out for a walk.
Why yes, it’s impossibly cool and cozy to work at Etsy. With offices in San Francisco and New York, Etsy has welcomed workplace dogs since 2005. Their SF office is just a few steps from Market Street (which has free WiFi by the way). You’ll often find staffers working outside on their laptops on sunny days, with their Labrador alongside and a frothy latte in hand. In fact, the pooches are valued members of what the e-commerce site—which enables million of users around the world to buy and sell handmade and vintage wares online—calls its “canine operations team.”
Etsy’s open, authentic, creative, and pet-positive work environment is right on point, in line with its policies on eating meals as a team and recycling or composting office waste. Connection and community is what it all boils down to. The leading online artists’ marketplace has an enviable work culture as a certified B corporation — a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
Salesforce is the embodiment of Silicon Valley: high stakes business done in a low key atmosphere. This San Francisco cloud computing company sets the gold standard for a pet-friendly environment with “Puppyforce”, Salesforce’s official pet policy. The protocol lets up to six employees reserve desks in a specially designed communal room, where they can bring in their dogs. The rooms are soundproof and feature water bowls, padded cages, dog beds, and cleaning wipes. Added pet perks include discounts on pet insurance, vet house calls, pet supplies, and dog walking.
Kimpton Hotel Group
We can’t say we’re surprised that one of the best hotel brands for pets is also one of the most pet-friendly employers. Kimpton employee pet perks include pet insurance, bereavement leave in the event of a pet death, as well as on-site amenities for pets including water bowls, treats, beds and toys. The San Francisco-based hotel group has a pet policy that dates all the way back to 1981. Founder Bill Kimpton used to greet hotel guests with his collie Chianti. Today the tradition lives on, as staff at Kimpton HQ are encouraged to bring their pets to work, and some hotels even have a “Director of Pet Relations,” an employee-owned dog that sits at the front desk and help employees greet guests.
Amazon’s San Francisco offices boast dog biscuits at the reception desk and dog-friendly water fountains around its Seattle campus. Many Silicon Valley veterans and insiders consider pet-friendly workplaces like this a bona fide benefit – like health care and a solid dental plan. Pets are a calming force. When things get stressful, you can take a breath and coax a cuddle from a colleague’s pooch.
We love the work-life-dog balance philosophy at VMWare. The Palo Alto-based virtualization software company has an “open campus” policy to benefit individual employees and its corporate culture as a whole — the office is open to family, friends, and furry companions. Employees sign an agreement on dog etiquette, while VMWare’s security team equips their dogs with a tag and bandana. The policy dates back to 2011 when a staffer brought in a foster dog for adoption and noticed cross-department traffic increasing. The policy soon became official and now there are 94 dogs registered to visit VMware – running the gamut from massive Mastiffs to tea-cup Chihuahuas!