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We’re letting our business go to the dogs… in order to increase your productivity.

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When needing a place to work in Melbourne’s CBD, I’m often found at the York Butter Factory on King Street. It’s an incubator run by Adventure Capital and it’s the office for about 90 startup entrepreneurs.

Last week, it became the day-time home of of its first non-human tenant, Spike, a small black terrier.

The introduction of Spike to the office took place without any formal announcement or, indeed, any remark from the tenants. In fact, I didn’t know about Spike’s arrival until he introduced himself by way of the traditional office-dog salutation (i.e. muzzle to crotch, under the desk, when least expected).

Are pets in the office a good thing?

Once upon a time, this would have seemed absurd.

Indeed, I remember meeting my first office-dog in 2003, at the HQ of Grin Creative, Anthill Magazine’s first graphic designer. (We still have Eddie Zammit to thank for our logo.)

I found the presence of Angus, Grin’s terrier, unusual enough to ask Eddie’s Co-Founder, Justin Jamieson, whether having a dog at work was really such a good thing. (“Won’t clients be put off?”)

His answer now seems predictable.

He said, “Clients like it. Angus relieves stress and gives people a relaxing distraction” (or words to that effect).

This was before behavioural economists had discovered (or, at least, widely reported) the benefits of micro-breaks to productivity. So, what do Facebook and dogs in the office have in common?

They make staff more productive. Seriously.

So, where am I heading with all this?

Recently, you may have noticed advertisements for WSPA on our website. These featured unsettling images of animals in distress.

The cause is an important one, especially to humanitarians, like the Anthill crew and many of our readers, who we often describe as ‘social capitalists’.

To raise awareness of WSPA memberships, we’re inviting all community members to… replace their profile photos with those of their office pets… or simply an animal that provides comfort and inspiration.

It’s frivolous and, some might say, a pointless distraction. I call it a productivity booster! Plus, we’ll be dishing out prizes from the Anthill schwag pile to reward our favourites

And, if you would like to support WSPA in any way, please click WSPA and follow the prompts. (Why not take up a monthly subscription in the name of your business?)

Want to unleash your inner animal? Here’s how.

If you are already a community member, all you need to do is visit your profile page and update your picture.

If you are not yet a member, sign up here and upload your favourite pet pic during the process.

To get you in the mood, here is a completely un-business related video from the interwebs. Watch, have a laugh and then update your profile pic. And to learn more about WSPA, click WSPA.

The only type of animal cruelty we condone… gentle mockery.

Here’s how to change your avatar (Tutorial)

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