If you're looking for ways to reduce stress and increase productivity at your workplace, the answer may be at your feet, or curled up on the couch, or chasing your kids around the yard.

Just as a dog or cat can bring energy, fun and companionship to a home, employers are finding that the workplace can also benefit from having pets around. A growing body of evidence suggests that pets in the office can have health benefits, improve morale, and even increase collaboration among workers. In some cases, pet owners may work longer hours if they don't feel they have to rush home to let their dogs out at the end of the day.

"Pet presence may serve as a low-cost, wellness intervention readily available to many organizations," says Randolph Barker, professor of management in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. Barker's 2012 study of dogs in the workplace found that bringing pets to work resulted in a measurable decline in stress among workers over the course of a day. In the study, those who didn't have pets in the workplace had an increase in stress as the day went on.

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